Residents in north Queensland have spent a sleepless night hoping their homes remain safe from flooding during a one-in-100 year downpour.
More than the annual rainfall has fallen on parts of north Queensland in the past week, creating a disaster area stretching 700km along the coast from Cairns to Mackay.
On Saturday night, 500 homes were at risk of going under in Townsville with tens of thousands more properties at risk if the north Queensland flood crisis worsens as expected.
Police, soldiers and emergency services spent Saturday door-knocking in Townsville to warn residents who have been advised to watch out for updates on the disaster.
"If the rain continues overnight and into tomorrow, if we keep going the way we are today, we are talking about 10,000 to 20,000 homes," Chief Superintendent Steve Munro told reporters.
The monsoonal deluge has been declared a catastrophe by the Insurance Council of Australia, with losses estimated at $16.7 million and the worst yet to come.
Disaster assistance has been extended for communities in Townsville, Charters Towers, Palm Island, Richmond and Burdekin, the Queensland government announced on Saturday night.
It will be delivered through the jointly funded Commonwealth-Queensland Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.
About 100 homes were evacuated near the bulging Ross River dam as water was released, but it was back up to 216 per cent capacity by Saturday evening.
Paul Shafer and his family lost two cars, a truck and a caravan when water was released from the dam, a risky move designed to spare the town from more widespread flooding.
He understood the decision but said it was demoralising to see the destruction at his Hermit Park park home.
"We have decided to stay rather than evacuate, we still have electricity but it will be a sleepless night ahead, that's for sure."
The rain and flash flooding began a week ago causing power and phone outages, closing roads and businesses and inundating homes.
Four tourists trapped in a car were rescued by a grazier in a helicopter after being stranded by the flooded Diamantina River near Middleton on Saturday.
State Disaster Coordinator Bob Gee is urging people to stay out of the water and check emergency and weather warnings - which are updated regularly.
Australian Associated Press