Disaster unfolding in north west

Stock losses mounting for north west cattle producers


Weather
The view from Eddington Station, west of Julia Creek on Wednesday morning. Photo supplied.

The view from Eddington Station, west of Julia Creek on Wednesday morning. Photo supplied.

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Stock losses of more than a thousand head are expected in the state’s north west, as torrential rain and ongoing gale force winds continue to batter the region.

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Stock losses of more than a thousand head are expected in the state’s north west, as torrential rain and ongoing gale force winds continue to batter the region.

Rachael Anderson, at Eddington, west of Julia Creek, was one of the emotionally exhausted landholders to wake up to unprecedented scenes of floodwater surrounding their homestead and she said they feel broken by the thought of how their stock are coping.

“Everything was fine until two days ago – we’d had a lovely amount of rain, we were really happy – but seven inches in one night on top of that has broken us,” she said. “We are up over the 600mm mark. I’ve stopped counting, I don’t want to know anymore.”

While they only had 10mm overnight, 50mm had fallen in a short space of time on Wednesday morning and they’d heard that falls of 125mm had been recorded upstream overnight, which will bring a fresh onslaught of water.

They have seen cows struggling in the swollen Eastern Creek on their doorstep and with 25 per cent of their 17,000ha property prone to flooding in normal circumstances, they expect to have lost cows and calves at least.

Rachael said some stock would be able to make it back to land but even without floodwaters to contend with, the conditions had been extreme for days.

Her husband Anthony had been able to rescue some of the stock that had become bogged close to the house.

“For us, the losses would be into the hundreds already, and the concerns are the same for most of us,” she said. “We expect thousands will be lost across the district.”

Read more: Producers fear stock losses

It’s a catastrophic situation that is seeing even birds drowning from sheer exhaustion.

Rachael said they watched an eagle struggling in floodwaters flowing past, having become too waterlogged to cope any longer.

The Andersons and others in the north west say they were expecting and prepared for a flood of 2009 proportions but no-one foresaw what was taking place now.

“We could have swung a few gates if we’d thought this was going to happen, but now choppers can’t fly in the rain and the wind is horrendous, and some are running out of fuel,” Rachael said. “It’s just too dangerous to put boats in the water at the moment, with fences and whatnot submerged.”

As far as getting hay and help to their marooned cattle went, Rachel said helicopters were coming to the area as soon as possible, but that there weren’t enough to service everyone in need.

“We have been ringing and we know we’re on a waiting list, that’s all we can do,” she said. “Anything would help us right now.”

The enormous rain totals come on top of extremely dry conditions in which most producers with stock were feeding them or had them on agistment.

Rachael said the region would need a lot of assistance to recover.

“How are we going to replace stock when we’ve spent so much on lick and fodder already,” she asked. “This is going to be a big issue for banks and others.”

AgForce announced on Wednesday morning that it had established a crisis management team to ensure affected producers receive the support they needed to come through the unprecedented disaster.

CEO Michael Guerin said airlifted fodder was an immediate need for people who had stock weakened by years of drought.

“Producers who need fodder are encouraged to contact AgForce or their Local Disaster Management Group, via their local council,” he said.

Related: Agistment plan on track

The story Disaster unfolding in north west first appeared on Queensland Country Life.

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