Second man dies in southeast Qld floods

Laine Clark and Marty Silk |

An eight-year-old girl spent the night clinging to a tree with her stepmum in raging floodwaters in southeast Queensland that claimed the life of her father.

The body of the girl’s 52-year-old dad was on Tuesday found at a property near Tiaro south of Gympie, making him the second confirmed death from floods caused by remnants of Cyclone Seth dumping torrential rain on the region.

Police said it was “remarkable” the girl and 43-year-old woman were able to survive after their small boat overturned on Monday night.

Superintendent Michael Sawrey said the three family members had got in a tinnie at about 6pm on Monday to check on their property before tragedy struck.

He said the father was swept away when the boat capsized but the daughter and stepmum were able to grab a tree.

“Given the ferocity of the water it is remarkable for them to cling on somehow for all that time,” he said.

The pair were located and taken to hospital suffering hypothermia after witnesses heard their screams and emergency services were called out to the property almost 12 hours after the boat had overturned, at about 5.30am.

The man’s body was later found almost 300m from where the boat had capsized.

Mr Sawrey hailed the “magnificent job” done by emergency services but said the family had no business being out in the water.

“Unfortunately we’ve had a number of tragedies through this and we just plead to people: stay away from floodwaters,” he said.

The body of a 22-year-old had been found in a submerged ute on Saturday, while police hold “grave fears” for a 14-year-old girl who has been missing for three days.

Krystal Cain was last seen by her father after they abandoned their flooded car near the Burnett Highway at Booubyjan in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Emergency services and volunteers have been searching on boats, trail bikes, 4WD vehicles and even on horseback for any sign of the teenager.

“We have grave fears but we still hold hope of finding this young lady,” Mr Sawrey said.

Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said on Tuesday the search may eventually be scaled back.

Meanwhile, financial assistance is now available for residents affected by flooding in 13 areas in the Fraser Coast and Gympie regions, including Maryborough which was visited by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Tuesday.

Up to $180 per person and a maximum of $900 for a family of five or more will be available thanks to state and federal funding.

Low-interest loans of up $250,000 will also be available for primary producers and small businesses impacted by the floods.

National Recovery and Resilience Agency’s Shane Stone will arrive in Maryborough on Wednesday to assess the flood’s impact.

Ms Palaszczuk said on Tuesday former Queensland governor Paul de Jersey had been appointed to lead the recovery effort in the area once the water subsides.

She said 30 homes and 50 businesses have been damaged by floodwaters in Maryborough alone after about 650mm of rain fell in less than 24 hours.

A broken valve in the stormwater drain system allowed floodwater to bypass the city’s flood levee and surge through the drains when the Mary River peaked just short of 10m on Monday night.

Police revoked an emergency declaration for Maryborough on Tuesday, but roads are closed and people are being warned to stay away from flood-affected areas.