The tiny hamlet of Nelia, swamped by floodwaters from the catastrophic monsoon, now has a derailed train blocking its only road out. Pictures: John Andersen
The tiny hamlet of Nelia, swamped by floodwaters from the catastrophic monsoon, now has a derailed train blocking its only road out. Pictures: John Andersen

‘Mother of all disasters’: Fears for struggling towns

THE catastrophic deluge that's gutted farmers in the state's northwest could be a "fatal blow" for already struggling towns, as the cattle industry braces for little to no income.

While the full effects of the devastation are yet to be felt, Traeger MP Robbie Katter said the impact of the event would be far-reaching.

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Richmond, Julia Creek and McKinlay were just some of the towns saturated by floodwaters.

With serious concerns for the mental health of farmers, Queensland Health has teamed up with the Royal Flying Doctors Service.

Thirty staff have been deployed from around the state to join community outreach teams in Townsville and other community recovery centres. More are expected to travel soon.

Mr Katter said upwards of half a million cattle could have been killed.

"This (floods) could be a fatal blow for some of those towns if it's not addressed," he said.

"There is a sense of fear of how we deal with this."

Heavy rain that was expected to end the drought turned empty properties into vast, brown lakes, decimating homes, livelihoods and railways.

At least $300 million worth of livestock have either died or have been euthanised following the floods.

A major flood warning was still current for the Flinders River yesterday, while a minor flood warning was current for the Ross River in Townsville.

Mr Katter said people would have little to no income for the next two to three years.

He said it was equivalent of being told you had to work without pay.

"You've got the mother of all disasters for the northern beef industry," he said.

"Everyone is saying it's much worse than 1974 (floods) and the reason for that is, the cattle were in better condition then.

"These cattle were coming off a dry year."

Mr Katter said if there were three dams in the mid west and through the gulf, many of those cattle would have been in better condition going into the floods.

Mick Pattel, who operates Pattel Transport in Richmond, which carries cattle, questioned how some farmers would get back into the market.

"These people are going to have no money to spend," he said.

Mr Pattel said he didn't expect to get back on the road before May.

"We're going to see a downturn in our income this year so we'll tighten the belt," he said. "We'll just buy the essentials."



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