Australians assess flood damages from cyclone as rescue efforts ramp up

By Ecomili

December 20, 2023 at 8:00 AM


By Renju Jose

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Residents in Australia's northeast on Tuesday took stock of flood damages from former Tropical Cyclone Jasper and authorities accelerated efforts to rescue people stranded in remote towns as rivers stayed above dangerous levels.

Jasper made landfall last week as a category 2 storm, three rungs below the most dangerous wind speed level, in the far north of Queensland state, home to several resorts along the world-famous Great Barrier Reef.

It was soon downgraded to a tropical low but the system moved slowly, dumping months worth of rain over four days, cutting off entire towns, and inundating homes, roads and farms.

Conditions have since eased with military personnel joining the state's emergency crews on evacuations and relief efforts. Search continued for an 85-year-old man missing in flood waters.

Flights from Cairns Airport, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, will resume on Tuesday, officials said.

"Today, we will really see the beginning of the recovery effort across much of Far North Queensland. So, there'll be a big focus on recovery work," Federal Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

"We're going to see a very large amount of property damage ... so, I think we're up for a pretty expensive repair bill," Watt said.

The Insurance Council of Australia said the flooding could be escalated to an insurance catastrophe if there was a spike in claims, though it was too early to determine the full impact.

Television footage showed residents walking through homes strewn with debris and sludge after water levels receded in some towns during a pause in rains.

Authorities said most of the 300 residents from the flooded remote Indigenous town of Wujal Wujal will be evacuated soon. Some residents there had to wade through crocodile-infested waters to get to higher ground, according to media reports.

A 2.8-meter (9-foot) long crocodile was captured on Monday in a storm drain in Ingham, a town of about 5,000. Crocodile sightings in north Queensland are more common in rivers, lagoons and swamps in rural areas.

(Reporting by Renju Jose in Sydney; Editing by Bill Berkrot)


Reuters is a news agency owned by Thomson Reuters Corporation. It employs around 2,500 journalists and 600 photojournalists in about 200 locations worldwide. Reuters is one of the largest news agencies in the world.

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