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Western Queensland town of St George welcomes floodwaters, hopes for more rain to come

Breaking banks: Balonne River swelling up over the Andrew Nixon Bridge.

FLOODWATERS peaked at 12m in the south-west Queensland town of St George as the Balonne River swelled last week, but little damage to homes was reported.

Balonne parish priest Fr Salvador Fernandes had just returned home from holidays in India, passing over the Andrew Nixon Bridge that spanned the Balonne River with little rain having been recorded.

“It filled up from last Sunday onwards until Friday, about five days (of rain) or so,” he said.

“But now things are getting better and life is moving.”

Fr Fernandes said the Andrew Nixon Bridge was cleared and traffic could move again.

He had not received word of any damage and the parish buildings were fine.

“Let’s hope things are improving,” he said.

More rain was always needed to combat dry conditions though, Fr Fernandes said.

“People still need rain; it’s not enough that it rains for only a weekend and some days then stops,” he said. “The rains are always welcome.”

Local Facebook groups posted pictures of the floodwaters for the community to see, and there were many offers of help to clean up the muddy aftermath.

But as the clean-up began, the health risks were generating a buzz.

Balonne Shire Council’s chief executive officer Matthew Magin said the increase in freshwater breeding sites would result in a larger number of mosquitoes, which in turn increased the potential for outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases.

“These post-flood conditions will also increase the number of black flies (sand flies) which are aggressive biters and breed exclusively in running water,” he said.

“Council is implementing a fogging program to reduce the numbers of mosquitoes and black flies in St George, Dirranbandi, Bollon and Thallon.”

Fr Fernandes said the Balonne Highway to Bollon had opened to traffic.

Balonne Shire Local Disaster Management Group chairman Richard Marsh said council crews had cleared the highway and Department of Transport and Main Roads inspectors had opened the highway.

“The Balonne Highway, west of Bollon, is open with caution as there is water over the highway,” he said.

“Waters at Bollon are receding and the clean-up of the area has commenced.”

But further along in Dirranbandi, things were still gluggy at time of publication.

“The main flood peak has reached Dirranbandi and levels are starting to drop slowly,” Mr Marsh said last Sunday.

Other areas like Cunnamulla saw the Warrego River peak last Sunday night at about 9.64m.

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