Father, daughter rescued in Gympie floods


A father and his young daughter have been rescued after spending two nights clinging to a tree in northern Queensland after floodwaters hit the region over the weekend.

An RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter crew from Toowoomba airlifted the pair from a homestead in the Gympie region to hospital on Sunday after they were found at around 1pm.

“The father explained to the crew that his car had been caught between two sections of floodwaters on Friday night and water began filling the car,” RACQ LifeFlight said in a statement late Sunday night.

“He and his primary school-aged daughter climbed onto the roof of the vehicle but were swept into the water in the darkness.”

They were washed into a tree, which they clung onto.

On the first night, the father swam back to the submerged car and grabbed a rope, which he used to tie himself and his daughter to the tree.

After the water subsided on Sunday morning, the pair climbed down more than 10 metres to the ground and made their way to the homestead to raise the alarm.

“They had suffered exposure, dehydration and a lot of insect bites,” RACQ LifeFlight said.

It was one of at least two flood-related missions in the Gympie region for chopper crews on the weekend.

On Saturday, a crew airlifted a man aged in his 50s who had been injured after he drove into floodwaters in the early hours of the morning.

But rescuers still hold grave fears for a 14-year-old girl swept away while fleeing a car caught in floodwaters with a 40-year-old man at Booubyjan, near Gympie, in the early hours of Saturday.

The man was found clinging to a tree hours later but the girl has not yet been found.

At least one person has died in the floods, which came after intense rain pummelled the region on Friday and Saturday.

A 22-year-old man’s body was found in a submerged ute at Kanigan, north of Gympie, on Saturday.

Water levels around the Mary River in Gympie remain high and roads have been washed out.

Meanwhile, the Queensland city of Maryborough was evacuated at the weekend after floodwaters surged into the city through the stormwater drains.

A levee was protecting the CBD until an underground stormwater valve failed just before 2pm on Sunday, allowing floodwater to surge up through the drains and into the streets.

Police and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services issued an urgent emergency evacuation order for more than 30 inner-city blocks.

On Sunday night, Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour said the water level had been steady at 10 metres “for a few hours”, and that would likely be the peak.

The city council was doing all it could to protect the town, with 12 pumps each moving about 120 litres a second, he said.

“We are keeping pace with the incoming water. We have numerous generators and pumps running,” he posted on social media on Sunday night.

Authorities had expected the river to peak in Maryborough above a major flood level of 10.5 metres, impacting about 80 homes around 10pm on Sunday, after the remnants of tropical cyclone Seth dumped 600mm on the Wide Bay-Burnett region in two days.

QFES Deputy Commissioner Mike Wassing urged people not to enter floodwaters or go sightseeing in Maryborough.