Flooding recedes, cleanup begins

Jan. 30, 2013 at 9:44 AM

BUNDABERG, Australia, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- Military personnel arrived in the Wide Bay-Burnett region in Australia's flood-ravaged Queensland state to assist in recovery efforts, officials said.

Officials said the death toll was at least six people after the bodies of two farm workers were found in Lockyer Valley, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported Wednesday.

Cleanup operations have begun even though some rivers haven't peaked.

Communities throughout the region were reporting shortages of food and water. Power also was out in many areas. Thousands of people were evacuated.

Officials estimated the floods cost about $200 million. The Insurance Council said it received nearly 22,000 claims so far.

In hard-hit Bundaberg, waters began receding, but officials said it could be days before residents could enter the worst affected areas.

Maj. Pat O'Neil said 180 soldiers were in Bundaberg, and smaller convoys were dispatched to other locations.

The troops will help repair infrastructure and clean people's homes, ABC said.

"They've already been out there with chainsaws," O'Neil said. "So they've been welcomed by the community and we're already working with the community and the council and other services and everybody's really pleased to be working together and its going well."

In Brisbane, the city's water treatment plant was at full capacity after being affected by floodwaters. However, residents were urged to conserve water for a few more days, ABC said.

South of Brisbane, areas of Logan remained isolated by floodwaters, prompting Mayor Pam Parker to plead with utilities to give priority to residents in the cut-off areas.

"They rely on this power for their water and they don't have water, they don't have milk they don't have fresh food," Parker said.

ABC said a man and two teenagers were charged with looting in Gympie.

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