24 March 2021

Dramatic rescues and 'disaster tourists' in aftermath of rain deluge

| Michael Weaver
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Flooded Queanbeyan River.

Queanbeyan River remains flooded on Wednesday, 24 March. Photo: Queanbeyan SES.

Inquisitive ‘disaster tourists’ and a number of dramatic rescues in floodwaters in the ACT region on Tuesday, 23 March, has led authorities to reinforce their warning for people not to go near flooded waterways which are still raging in the aftermath of a dramatic week of rain.

The Queanbeyan SES was called to rescue a man from a vehicle after he attempted to cross a heavily flooded road at Jinden, southeast of Captains Flat, yesterday (23 March).

Fortunately, the man was able to be rescued by locals before the arrival of SES volunteers who took nearly two hours to arrive due to the distance and treacherous weather.

Queanbeyan SES posted the below footage on its Facebook page:

Members of ACT Fire and Rescue and ACT Policing were also involved in a swift-water rescue of a woman at Kambah Pool late on Tuesday night (23 March).

The woman and her two friends were in the area taking photos of the flooded river for social media.

She moved closer to the river to take a photo, slipped on the wet rocks and fell into the fast flowing water.

She was swept further down the river until she was able to secure herself on a tree.

Firefighters used throw bags and ropes to safely retrieve the woman from the water. She was lucky not to suffer any major injuries.

A third rescue occurred at the flooded Naas Road Bridge over the Gudgenby River, south of Tharwa, when two men driving to work thought they could cross the swollen river, but didn’t realise the middle of the crossing had been washed away.

The car was swept downstream and the two men were trapped on their vehicle for almost five hours before community members could rescue them with ropes. The rescue also involved a significant response from emergency services and ACT Policing specialist resources, including divers, as well as a rescue helicopter which was dispatched before a local farmer helped pull the two men to safety.

Members of the ACT SES during rescue of a woman from Kambah Pool.

Members of the ACT State Emergency Service during the rescue of a woman from Kambah Pool on Tuesday, 23 March. Photo: Supplied.

These incidents led the ACT Emergency Services Agency (ESA) to urge people to stay clear of floodwaters, including so-called ‘disaster tourists’.

“The ACT Emergency Services Agency has received a number of reports of disaster tourism,” said an ESA spokesperson. “For your safety, please avoid going to flood-affected areas where you can. Emergency services are still busy working in flood and rain affected areas. We ask that you please try to keep our roads clear.

The ACT State Emergency Service (ACT SES) has now received approximately 185 calls for assistance since midnight on Tuesday, with more than 165 jobs completed to assist with leaking roofs, fallen trees and flooded roads throughout Canberra.

The community is also asked to be aware of the danger that trees may pose after soil erosion from extensive rain.

Meanwhile, the region’s rivers are slowly beginning to subside after the Canberra area received more than 60mm of constant rain in 24 hours. Rainfall totals in areas such Tidbinbilla and Queanbeyan were also significant.

Minor flooding is still occurring along Queanbeyan River and Molonglo River at Oaks Estate.

Queanbeyan River peaked at 5.2 metres close to midnight, below the expected peak of 5.75 metres. Residents at Riverside Caravan Park, who had been evacuated, were allowed to return this morning (24 March).

Rainbow above Woden.

The tail of a rainbow that graced Canberra shines over Woden on the morning of Wednesday, 24 March. Photo: Michael Weaver.

The Molonglo River at Oaks Estate peaked at 6.47 metres at around 3 am on Wednesday, and is currently at 6.09 metres and falling, with minor flooding.

The low-level crossing at Morisset Street in Queanbeyan also remains closed, as does Oaks Estate Road.

There has also been good news for a family of swans on the Queanbeyan River, which have been reported as being safe in their surrounds on the body of water.

Meanwhile, Icon Water says a small amount of partially treated effluent has been discharged into the Molonglo River due to the heavy flow of water entering the Lower Molonglo Water Quality Control Centre treatment plant.

Residents on the section of the Murrumbidgee River, from the junction of the Molonglo River and above Burrinjuck Reservoir, should not draw water from the river for either potable (drinking or food preparation) or non-potable (domestic or stock watering) purposes for the next 48 hours.

READ ALSO: Tiny turtles find any port in a storm will do after being blown off course

The following road closures are also still in place, including Corin Road at Woods Reserve, which has been closed following two small landslides.

Uriarra Crossing, Coppins Crossing, Angle Crossing, Point Hut Crossing, Oaks Estate Crossing, Sunshine Crossing and Paddys River Road (6.2km south of the Cotter Reserve to its intersection with Discovery Drive) are also closed.

The Naas Road bridge, over the Gudgenby River, is also closed after a temporary bridge – in place at the site for access during the construction of a new bridge – was inundated with floodwater.

In Canberra, Dudley Street – both directions between Novar Street/Kent Street and Cotter Road in Yarralumla – is closed.

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These clowns and fools who trigger rescues should be criminally charged with endangering people’s lives (the rescuers) and should be made to pay back the cost of their rescue. Until there are more consequences for their stupidity, these things will keep happening. If it’s flooded, forget it – we see and hear that message every time there is a flood event, and always the dim-witted seem to ignore the warnings.

The clear waters of the Queanbeyan Riviera !

As a former Kambah resident of 20 years that is the first time I’ve ever heard of a tourist going to Kambah!

What next a federal politician to visit Kambah?

Stephen Saunders3:23 pm 24 Mar 21

Thanks for the update. Ironic, isn’t it? In between 21st century Coombs/Denman Prospect and the city, we find a 19th century causeway that floods whenever. So Australian isn’t it, whack in a new suburb, who cares about schools or roads? I guess they’ll have a tram by 2060.

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