Far North gets wet and wild
AN Atherton family's dramatic escape from croc-infested floodwaters is a sign of more to come as the Far North braces for 700mm of rain on the coast around Cairns over the next four days.
Tropical cyclone Oswald formed late yesterday and was due to cross the western Cape coast early this morning, bringing with it a deluge of rain for the eastern coast between Cooktown and Bowen.
Cape emergency groups were on high alert as the communities of Pormpuraaw and Kowanyama were preparing for the Category 1 cyclone to make landfall. A father of four braved two raging, croc-infested rivers and walked barefoot for 25km yesterday to save his young family trapped by rising floodwaters near Laura.
As wild weather lashed the region ahead of the approach of cyclone Oswald, rivers rose, trapping the family between two waterways in a remote corner of Cape York on Sunday.
The Atherton family, including four children under 12, spent a terrifying night huddled in their four-wheel-drive about 30km south of the township as the Laura and Normanby rivers rose around them on Battle Camp Rd with no food, no provisions and no phone service.
Laura police officer-in-charge Sen-Constable Ben Tome said early yesterday morning the father made the decision to try to cross the river and get help.
"There was nothing in between those two rivers, there's no civilisation," he said.
"The rain continued to fall and the rivers continued to rise.
"This morning at first light he decided to swim the river and commenced the walk.
"But at the end of the day if he didn't, they had no food and no reception and their car battery was flat."
He said the man walked 15km before having to cross a second river and a further 10km before reaching a cattle property.
He called the police from the property.
"He was quite lethargic and tired as you can imagine," Sen-Constable Tome said.
"He didn't have shoes on for the trek so his feet were all cut up.
"But even when I spoke to him when he raised the alarm, all he was concerned about was his wife and kids."
With the area inaccessible by road, the Emergency Management Queensland rescue helicopter crew flew in and plucked the family from the roof of their vehicle as water lapped just under the roof.
The family were airlifted uninjured to Laura before a friend drove up to collect them and take them home.
Their car had been lost in the floodwaters. Sen-Constable Tome said it was a timely reminder to people that were planning journeys during the wet season.
"Be prepared, check road conditions and if you're travelling in these remote areas, carry a satellite phone and extra provisions," he said.
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Wild weather: Strong wet weather has caused drama for Far North residents.