Flood victims take disaster in stride
DISASTER officials have ruled catastrophic flooding is likely to be a multimillion-dollar hit on the banana and sugar industry in North Queensland.
But, as insurance assessors fly north to tally the damage, plucky Ingham locals fished for barramundi in backyards, spotted deadly wildlife, or took a tinnie to the pub.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk plans to tour the flood zone by helicopter today to assess the impact first-hand with about 300 homes inundated, highways cut, businesses shut, and towns isolated.
Ingham, Tully and Innisfail regions are still flooded after more than a metre of rainfall in parts.
Forecasters predict possible cyclonic activity later this week as a tropical low develops on the monsoon trough in the Coral Sea.
Packs of bull sharks, crocodiles and black snakes have been seen swimming along flooded roads - one croc lunging at a vehicle - while the only way to get a cold drink at Ingham's famed Pub with No Beer, the Lees Hotel, was by boat.
The Babinda Boulders, north of Innisfail, has officially recorded a whopping 1003mm in five days.
Other sites in the tropical north have posted daily falls above 400mm.
Flood-affected residents have also been advised they may be eligible to apply for a disaster relief cash payout of up to $2000.
The Queensland Premier said it would take weeks to get a true picture of the economic impact with major flood levels - a peak of 14.7m in Ingham - due to ease as the weather system shifts north from today.
"Everyone should spare a thought for the farmers, I think, who are going to feel a huge impact,'' she said.
"There are going to be impacts, of course, on banana crops, sugar, aquaculture.
"So we will get the full assessments from those over coming weeks and, of course, the Bruce Highway still does remain closed in some directions."
An Army helicopter flew in supplies to 72 Year Six students and their teachers stranded at a school camp in Euramo, south of Tully, with the children reportedly in high spirits as they wait for flooded Murray and Tully Rivers to subside and roads to reopen.
In news just to hand three of the children trapped at a school camp near Tully have been airlifted to Cairns after contracting a bout of gastro.
Doctors were brought in to the camp Saturday to check on the welfare of the children, who have been stranded at the Echo Creek Adventure Camp for several days.
The decision was made to move the three sick children for their sake and to stop the spread of illness in the camp.
Around 70 grade six children and 8 adults from Willows Primary School in Townsville became trapped at the site when the flood waters began to rise .
A diabetic child and a parent were evacuated from the site on Friday but officials decided it would be safest to leave the remaining group at the campsite until flood waters subside.
State Disaster Coordinator Deputy Commissioner Bob Gee said food and medical supplies have been air-dropped to the camp, and there are hopes the children may be able to be moved by bus at lunchtime tomorrow.
The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has declared the Hinchinbrook and Cassowary Coast regions a "catastrophe" with disaster assessors prioritising thousands of claims from policy holders.
Halifax resident Emma Rackley, of Lucinda Fishing Lodge, told how her husband Gavin caught a barra in the backyard as they played "spot the deadly creatures" in floodwaters completely surrounding her home.
"We've got a big black 5m crocodile we call Boris who usually lives in the Herbert River in front of us, but we think he's moved up to the high ground behind our house,'' she said.
"My friend got a video of a black snake going past her foot. The Ingham Mayor warned of packs of bull sharks chasing bait up flooded roads. And the only way to get to the Halifax pub is in a tinny. It's a wild time.''
Meanwhile, a violent burglary unfolded in sodden Ingham on Friday night as floodwaters raged, resulting in a man being assaulted with a baseball bat.
At about 10.50pm, two males gained entry to a house on Warren St and assaulted the male resident, leaving him bruised and with swelling to his back and shoulder.
The offenders stole the man's car keys and a non-functional replica handgun before fleeing in the resident's Ford Falcon sedan.
Police located the vehicle about 200m from where it was taken.
A 16-year-old boy and a 15-year-old boy, both from Ingham, are assisting police.
Investigations are continuing.