Dad wrestles mammoth ‘croc’ in floods
Every year Queenslanders are faced with an array of devastating natural disasters whether it be cyclones, flooding or bushfires but without fail, the battler state faces them with grace, courage and always a bit of Aussie humour.
Take Townsville dad Scott Munro, who left his kids in stitches this week when he channelled the late Steve Irwin and tackled a giant, inflatable crocodile.
"Right, I'm out here in flooded suburbia," Mr Munro says to his wife Stacy as he looks out over a flooded Townsville street.
"I've spotted myself a majestic creature. You can see him just over there," he tells the camera, pointing to the inflatable crocodile sitting in the gutter.
"I'm going to stick my thumb right up his b**thole," Mr Munro adds, to a fit of laughter from his children.
Running over, the Queensland dad tackles the crocodile before yelling out a triumphant "got him".
STATE BRACES FOR MORE FLOODING AS CLEAN-UP STARTS
Weary residents in Australia's flood-hit northeast returned home on Wednesday to begin a massive clean-up after almost two weeks of heavy rain, as the wild weather moved south to inundate more towns.
Three hundred people remain in evacuation centres and 9000 people remain without power.
But schools and businesses are reopening just days after people were being rescued from inundated homes and waterways.
Communities remain cut off and thousands are still without power in the state of Queensland, but the weather bureau said the downpours that have seen areas doused with more than 300 millimetres of rain daily were easing.
"It looks like the worst is probably over," Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Vinord Anand told AFP.
"We are still seeing rainfall rates that are meeting our severe weather warning criteria, but rainfall totals are not high as they have been in the last five to 10 days."
The daily rainfall totals were falling below 250 millimetres and would "ease slightly" on Thursday and Friday as the monsoonal trough slowly moves offshore, he added.
Australia's tropical north typically experiences heavy rains during the monsoon season, but the recent downpours have seen some areas get a year's worth of rainfall in just a week.
The rains turned roads into rivers and were so incessant authorities were forced to open floodgates of a major dam on Sunday.
With floodwaters receding in some areas of the hard-hit city of Townsville, residents headed home to help each other clean up their mud-caked properties.
"Just coming up the driveway, looking at all the mud, that's when it hit home," resident Clayton Linning told the ABC.
"There are a lot of neighbours we've never met before and now we have, which is really nice. It's an unfortunate way to have to build community but it does."
GOVERNMENT RELAXES ACCESS TO DISASTER FUNDING
The federal government has relaxed the rules on who can access disaster funding following Prime Minister Scott Morrison's tour of flood-struck Townsville.
Previously, residents could only apply for federal government relief if they suffered damage to at least 25 per cent of their homes but that rule has been abolished, and they can now apply if water has gone over floorboards in their house.
"After seeing first-hand the challenges faced in Townsville yesterday, I asked for changes to be made last night to the eligibility for the disaster relief payment," Mr Morrison tweeted on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after visiting the city.
At least 2000 homes in the region have water over the floorboards, but potentially up to 10,000 sustained flooding damage.
Mr Morrison's announcement comes the same day insurance claims for the Townsville floods hit $80 million, with the damage bill set to soar as more residents return to their waterlogged homes.
The Insurance Council of Australia said on Wednesday it had received 6525 claims.
More than half of those were lodged within 24 hours.
ICA Communications Manager Campbell Fuller told AAP they expected the bill from this event to be in line with ex-Cyclone Oswald, which caused $1.26 billion of damage in Queensland and northern NSW in 2013.
He rejected warnings from Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill that north Queenslanders would not accept unfair premium rises following the floods.
"Right now we're focused on fixing properties," he said. "Any talk of premium rises is premature."
Ms Hill urged insurance companies to process claims quickly to help residents get back on their feet.
"The recovery effort is going to take some time, but the job becomes that much easier when insurance companies act as responsible corporate citizens," she said.
The ICA said insurers in Australia have used a standard definition for flood since 2012, which includes water escaping from a dam, including an intentional release.
- With AAP