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RAAF Hercules on Qld flood rescue mission

That time of year again in sunny Queensland....

A RAAF Hercules has been sent to evacuate patients from a flood-threatened hospital in outback Queensland to hospitals in Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

The C-130 transport aircraft was to land at St George, in the state's southwest, on Sunday afternoon.

The mission is one of several strategies to get residents out of the path of what's likely to be a record-breaking flood.

Buses will also evacuate St George residents without their own transport to nearby Dalby - where an evacuation centre will be set up - before access to the town is cut.

Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk told ABC Radio the city's RNA Showgrounds will be set up as a recovery centre for St George residents.

"So we're ready. We're on standby and should the need arise, we'll be ready to whip into action," Mr Quirk said.

SES and council crews from Brisbane have already travelled to St George to help local crews.

The flood peak is tipped to reach 14 metres in St George on Tuesday, which would make it the biggest flood the town has seen in recent memory.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said on Sunday the Hercules is joining eight Australian Defence Force (ADF) helicopters already assisting in the flood-relief efforts in south-east Queensland.

Ms Gillard said the situation in St George area deteriorated on Saturday and overnight, resulting in the need to evacuate patients from the St George Base Hospital.

She said the Hercules had been on standby for just such an emergency, with the Queensland government formally requesting assistance.

"The commonwealth continues to co-operate closely with the Queensland and NSW governments in this unfolding flood situation, standing ready to help wherever we are called," the prime minister said in a statement.

Four Black Hawk and four Kiowa helicopters, based at Oakey in Queensland, continued to assist with the search, evacuation and resupply of people trapped by the flood in the area of Roma, St George and Dirranbandi in south-east Queensland.

"Emergency Management Australia has liaison officers in flood-affected regions to ensure that requests for any further assistance can be actioned immediately," Ms Gillard said.

"The commonwealth continues to work with the Queensland and NSW governments to provide financial assistance to local communities affected by recent heavy rains and flooding through the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements."

Authorities are still discussing whether mandatory evacuations will be enforced.

Meanwhile, there's encouraging news further north with floodwaters receding in Mitchell and Roma and residents are turning to the arduous task of cleaning up.

Maranoa Regional Council says 396 buildings have had preliminary flood damage assessment in Mitchell and 281 so far have been affected by water inundation.

Food and medical supplies are still being airlifted into Mitchell and Roma with 290 evacuees remaining in the Mitchell evacuation centre and 48 in Roma.

Maranoa Mayor Robert Loughnan says clean-up efforts are well under way in Roma but will not begin in Mitchell until the water recedes further.

"Water levels in Roma receded further throughout the night and residents today begin the task of checking the damage to their property and cleaning out their homes," Mr Loughnan said.

"We have a huge job ahead of us, but have received overwhelming support from the community this morning to kick-start the initial clean up efforts in Roma.

"We are currently in the process of making arrangements to bring out an additional volunteer workforce for a wide-scale clean-up in Mitchell and Roma."

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Added: Feb-5-2012 Occurred On: Feb-5-2012
By: DirtyUncleBerty
World News
Tags: Persisting, down, in, the, Eastern, States
Location: St George, Queensland, Australia (load item map)
Views: 1329 | Comments: 3 | Votes: 0 | Favorites: 0 | Shared: 0 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 2
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