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DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Australia floods: 'I don't know what I am going to do'
By Daniel DE CARTERET
Logan City, Australia (AFP) April 2, 2017


Sharknado: Australia warns of snakes, crocs and sharks in floods
Sydney (AFP) March 31, 2017 - Wading through flooded areas can be dangerous anywhere in the world, but in Australia the waters may contain snakes, crocodiles and sharks as well as rubbish and sewage.

One of the striking images showing the impact of category four Cyclone Debbie which smashed through northeast Australia this week was a paramedic's photo of a large bull shark that washed up on a road near the town of Ayr.

And sharks are not the only unusual sightings in floodwaters in Australia's tropical north. Queensland state authorities warned that crocodiles and snakes could also be lurking around after Debbie hit.

"Flooded waterways increase the possibilities of crocodiles and other animals, such as snakes turning up in unexpected places," the state's environment and heritage protection department said.

"In most circumstances, crocodiles will be moving through, trying to get out of fast-flowing creeks and waterways to the quieter areas they prefer.

"Snakes are good swimmers and they too may turn up in unexpected places and may even find their way into people's properties."

Paramedic Lisa Smith, who photographed the bull shark, said she was stunned to find it lying near the Burdekin River.

"At first I thought it was a dolphin, but then I thought 'nah, there wouldn't be any dolphins around here,'" Smith told Brisbane's Courier Mail.

"I thought there were just crocs in that river. This should definitely teach people to never walk in floodwaters as you never know what's in them."

Snake catcher Anthony Bailey, from Yeppoon in central Queensland, offered on Facebook to remove the reptiles for free after the storm, and received a flood of responses.

"Already had a brown (snake) at our back door. Good on you guys for offering free assistance during this time," one person replied.

Bailey said snakes were fond of slithering indoors in wet conditions.

"They don't like sitting out in the rain, they come into houses or trees to escape the water and possibly looking for some warmth," he told the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin.

Australia is home to 20 of the world's 25 most venomous snakes, including the entire top 10.

Brown snakes, among the most venomous, are common in eastern Australia and can be as much as two metres (six feet) long when fully grown. Their bite can be fatal to humans.

People in North Maclean are used to floods. But few in the small farming community in eastern Australia can remember a deluge as bad as this one.

Torrential rains in the wake of a powerful tropical cyclone that slammed into the country's northeast coast on Tuesday have inundated large areas of two states and forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.

Kaycee Bentley woke Friday to find water inside her house. The nearby Logan River was rising faster than expected and it was not long before the water was lapping above the windows of her newly renovated home.

As neighbours rushed to help her escape, Bentley had barely enough time to save her most prized possessions: several horses and a dog.

"Most of my stuff was still left there, but it will all be gone now," the 47-year-old mechanic told AFP as she looked across the expanse of muddy water to her almost submerged house.

"I don't know what I am going to do, where I am going to go or where I am going to put the horses," she added, visibly upset.

As category four Cyclone Debbie was reduced to a tropical low, it dumped huge amounts of rain down the east coast to Sydney and beyond, causing widespread damage that is still being assessed.

- 'Major risk' -

Even as skies clear start to clear, rivers in Queensland and New South Wales keep rising -- in some areas reaching levels not seen in decades, if ever -- and police are urging people to move away and avoid crossing flooded roads.

With at least two people dead and several missing, Queensland police chief Ian Stewart has warned there is "still a major risk to the community around Logan and further south caused by that flooding situation".

The residents of North Maclean, south of Brisbane, are no strangers to flooding -- the area has been hit by six major deluges in the past, according to a memorial in a local park.

Wooden poles standing side by side are grim reminders of the peaks of previous inundations, the highest of which is 10 metres (33 feet) above the current floodwaters.

But locals say the extent of the damage caused by the flooding that followed Debbie is the worst they have ever seen.

Eleven-year-old Blaze Archibald, who despite his young age, says he can still remember the last big drenching in 2013.

"It used to be behind the stables," he said of the floodwaters then.

"This time, it is all the way up to the stables."

While Bentley was able to save her beloved pets, not all animals in North Maclean were so lucky.

As the rapidly rising water swallowed up fields, sending frightened cattle fleeing to higher ground, a calf was left behind and washed into the branches of a tree.

By the time a kayaker and two jet skiers reached the animal, it was dead. They dragged the carcass 100 metres to dry ground where exhausted residents consoled one another, some crying over the loss.

"The Logan community is really strong, we always get together and help people," said Linus Power, the local member of state parliament, during a tour of North Maclean to survey the damage.

"A lot of people have lost houses in this part of the Logan River.

"There are people that are yet to discover that they have lost their houses, because they went and stayed with family and friends and they will come back today and find their houses under water."

DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Military mobilises to help cyclone-ravaged Australian region
Ayr, Australia (AFP) March 29, 2017
Towns remained cut off in northern Australia Wednesday after being pummelled by a powerful cyclone that washed battered yachts ashore and ripped roofs off houses, as the military mobilised to help with the clean-up. The category four Cyclone Debbie slammed into the coast of Queensland state between Bowen and Airlie Beach on Tuesday afternoon, packing destructive winds and devastating some of ... read more

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