The Courier-Mail | News | Rockhampton floods

NEVILLE Zackeresen has seen this all before.

Having lived in the Depot Hill area of Rockhampton since 1977, he endured the 1991 floods, which lapped at the top of his stairs.

‘‘In ’91 you wouldn’t have even known there were houses down here,” Mr Zackeresen, 67, said. ‘‘I reckon this one is going to be worse.”

Many Rockhampton resi- dents face a nail-biting few days as the Fitzroy River slowly swells around them.

The airport is expected to close this afternoon, followed by the Bruce and Capricorn highways to the south later this weekend, leaving only access from the north.

However, a peak of 9.4m – expected on Tuesday – could cut that too.

Council yesterday began compulsory evacuations in areas such as Depot Hill, so far the worst hit area in Rockhampton.

‘‘Following that, we’ll be looking at the people that are most affected by water,” Mayor Brad Carter said.

Only a handful of residents, mainly the elderly, have so far been moved to the city’s evacu- ation centre at the Central Queensland University.

Others have already left, opting to stay with relatives on higher ground.

Council said 200 houses will have water across the floorboards as the river rises, with up to 4000 more suffering water damage to low-level property.

Cr Carter said he was talking to the city’s supermarkets, with food and water supplies set to become an issue as the water rises. ‘‘At this stage, we think supplies will come through,” he said.

Acting Superintendent David Peff said yesterday looting had not been a problem so far, though extra police had been brought in for support from Brisbane and Cairns.

Mr Zackeresen and his son Robert, 38, spent yesterday retrieving the last few items from the home he had shared with his wife for the past three decades.

‘‘I’m expecting (the water) to be two to three feet inside the house,” Mr Zackeresen said.

Published in The Courier-Mail, January 1-2, 2011