Balonne hits peak ‘just in the nick of time’
THE Balonne River was practically empty a month ago. This week, it is projected to peak at a level not seen since 2011.
While some residents are this week being urged to evacuate, and power is expected to be cut as water levels exceeded 12m, St George is celebrating.
In 2019, the town measured just 104.2mm. So far this month, there has been 132.2mm of rain.
Balonne Shire mayor Richard Marsh said the rain had come just in the nick of time, and had been a lifesaver for graziers and local businesses alike.
“Two months ago we were thinking we wouldn’t have enough water for fire fighting and for air-conditioning,” he told the Beacon.
“And now we’ve got so much water it’s going to close down roads and cut power.
“We’re wondering where did this all come from? But it’s a great, everybody is happy and smiling.
“There is money in mud, but none in dust. We’d already had people begin to plant for the first time in ages off the rain in January, and after this I’m sure there will be plenty more who will get out there and do their planting.”
Cr Marsh said that although the river was expected to peak between 12.3-12.5m overnight on Wednesday, there was no major damage predicted.
“It’s still well below our 2012 flood level of 13.9m,” he said. “I didn’t enjoy when the projected peak went from 11.5 to 12.5m, but as far as the community is concerned, there is no real damage involved.
Ergon is expected to disconnect customers along Albert St once the river reaches 12m.
On Tuesday, Queensland Police Service issued an emergency declaration for the Balonne River between E J Beardmore dam and the Queensland/New South Wales border.
At the time of publication on Tuesday, the Bureau of Meteorology was expecting the river at St George to peak between 12-12.5m between Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
On Tuesday, the river bypassed the major flood level of 10m, exceeding the Andrew Nixon bridge.
Cr Marsh said on Tuesday the Balonne Highway would be closed west-bound until water receded.
“Under this advice the flood level will well exceed the Andrew Nixon bridge decking height of 11m across the Jack Taylor Weir on the Balonne Highway,” he said.
Earlier this week, residents were advised to prepare to evacuate.
“It is anticipated St George properties in the lower areas outside the levee will experience flooding,” Cr Marsh said on Tuesday.
“We advise all residents to please stay safe and stay away from flood waters. Remember, if it’s flooded, forget it.”
Bollon and Dirranbandi were also preparing for flood waters at the time of publication.
“Dirranbandi residents are advised that floodwaters would reach them at the weekend,” Cr Marsh said.
More showers and storms were forecast for Tuesday, however were not expected to be severe.