Man found dead after car submerged in flooding rain from ex-Tropical Cyclone Seth, falls of 650 millimetres across south-east Queensland

Date: 2022-01-08 06:21:16

Police are investigating the death of a man whose car became submerged in floodwaters at Kanigan in Queensland’s Wide Bay region on Friday night.

Areas of the Wide Bay and Burnett, Fraser Coast and Gympie region have been inundated with rain and floodwaters after ex-Cyclone Seth crossed the coast on Friday morning.

An emergency alert for Goomeri, Kilkivan and Woolooga was issued on Saturday afternoon, warning of “significant flooding” and urging residents of those areas to stay in their homes.

Queensland police said a 22-year-old Sunshine Coast man was found dead in his car on Saturday morning and was the sole occupant of the car.

Police were only able to retrieve the man’s body on Saturday afternoon when flood conditions allowed swiftwater crews to get to his car.

Residents of Maryborough have been issued an emergency alert for major flooding in the Mary River that is expected to exceed 9 metres on Sunday morning as rain continues to fall.

Construction of a CBD flood barrier was underway in Maryborough on Saturday afternoon.

An evacuation respite centre opened at the Brolga Theatre and Convention Centre in Maryborough on Saturday afternoon.

The weather event dumped up to 650 millimetres of rain in 24 hours in some areas, pushing river heights up to 16.75 metres.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Laura Boekel said most of the rain was “very localised” between Gympie and Tiaro, describing the intensity of the falls as “incredibly rare”.

“We very rarely see thunderstorms staying in the location for such a long period of time,” she said. 

“They saw 600-plus millimetres in 12 hours so a really extraordinary amount of rainfall in a short period of time.

“So while we were aware that we were expecting thunderstorm activity, and we could see heavy rain associated with that, the magnitude of what we saw really escalated throughout the night.

“Gympie didn’t see that really intense rainfall, it’s actually upstream from that intense rainfall.”

At a flood emergency media briefing on Saturday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said 649mm of rain fell at Mt Kanigan, with 506mm falling at Glenwood and 342mm at Kilkivan.

“This is a lot a lot of rainfall in such a short period of time,” she said.

The Mary River in Meridan reached that height from just 1 metre on Friday afternoon.

Several other localities in the area received rainfall in the 200 to 300-millimetre range.

Four people were rescued from floodwaters in the town of Woolooga and flown to Bundaberg Hospital.

Longtime Woolooga local Brian Dray said the creek that runs through his property is in flood.

“It’s going down now but about six o’clock this morning, it was the highest I’ve ever seen it,” he said.

The towns of Tiaro and Miva put on emergency flood alert and the Bruce Highway was cut by floodwaters, but has since reopened.

Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski warned the highway could be closed again with rain still falling.

“There has been significant damage to some of the roads. Before anyone travels, [ask if] they absolutely have to, that’s the first thing: don’t go out in that area unless you absolutely have to,” he said.

Flooding was minor in Bundaberg, although the city and surrounds received more than 200mm of rain.

Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour told ABC Radio Brisbane that central Maryborough will be inundated tomorrow.

“We are looking at a potential major flood of the Maryborough CBD … so we are right now following all the procedures to close down bridges and get the flood barrier system up in the CBD,” he said.

“We have a number of communities that will most likely get cut off like Granville, the bridge over into the larger Maryborough area, as well as other areas … Tiaro right now is going through a major flood.

“But other areas like Tinnanbar, Poona, there’s a whole series of communities in the west that will be cut off for a period of perhaps a day or three.”

Mr Seymour urged residents to be prepared for the flood and to limit travel.

“[I advise them] to make sure they have enough food and what they need for the next three days,” he said.

There have been more than 75 calls for help across the state with multiple swiftwater rescues.

Earlier on Saturday, meteorologist Helen Reid said it was “amazing what an ex-tropical cyclone can do once it’s made landfall”.

“But over the course of the night, the dynamics of what was happening really intensified and we saw all that rainfall.

“We can point the finger straight at ex-Tropical Cyclone Seth and it will be a name that a lot of people won’t want to use for their children.

“[Rainfall] is expected to ease during the course of the afternoon, but [we are] not expecting to see blue sky today,” she said.


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