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January 6, 2011
New storms soak flood-weary Australian communities
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) -- Cleanup crews toiled under more pounding rains Thursday to clear mountains of debris in flood-ravaged communities across northeastern Australia, as one mayor warned it could take his city up to a year to recover from the worst flooding in decades. Officials were only beginning to see the scope of the damage as river levels across Queensland state started dropping despite new thunderstorms. Floodwaters were expected to stay high in many areas for at least another week, and officials warned evacuated residents to stay far away from their waterlogged homes. "It's important for the community to remember that this event is not over yet," said Brad Carter, mayor of the inundated city of Rockhampton, which has evacuated 500 people. Four thousand people across Queensland have been evacuated from their homes since driving rains that began just before Christmas left much of the region under a sea of murky water. Around 1,200 homes have been inundated, with another 10,700 suffering some damage in the flood zone, an area greater than France and Germany combined.(34 images)

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A vehicle drives down the flooded runway at Rockhampton Airport on January 5, 2011 after the swollen Fitzroy River broke its banks and inundated much of the city. Hundreds of Australians scrambled in the rain to build levee banks and evacuate hospital patients on January 5 as floods that have inundated or cut off 40 towns. AFP/ Getty Images / Torsten Blackwood


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An aerial view of the submerged runway at Rockhampton airport on January 6, 2011 in Rockhampton, Australia. Getty Images / Jonathan Wood



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The runway is submerged at Rockhampton Airport after the swollen Fitzroy River broke its banks and flooded much of the city on January 5, 2011. AFP/ Getty Images / Torsten Blackwood



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An aeriel view of a suburban home and backyard swimming pool on January 6, 2011 in Rockhampton, Australia. Getty Images / Jonathan Wood



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A local resident rows along a suburban street through flood waters on January 6, 2011 in Rockhampton, Australia. Getty Images / Jonathan Wood



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An aerial view of the highway into Rockhampton submerged under water on January 6, 2011 in Rockhampton, Australia. Getty Images / Jonathan Wood



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In this Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011 photo, an island is formed by flood water stranding vehicles and other equipment in Rockhampton, Australia. AP / Janie Barrett



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An aerial view of homes surrounded by flood waters on January 6, 2011 in Rockhampton, Australia. Floodwaters peaked at 9.2 metres yesterday in the central Queensland city just falling short of the predicted peak of 9.4 metres. Getty Images / Jonathan Wood



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In this Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011 photo, locals in their boat are tied to their house in the floodwaters in Depot Hill, Rockhampton, Australia. AP / Janie Barrett



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Residents evacuate flooded homes after the Fitzroy River broke its banks and inundated much of Rockhampton on January 4, 2011. AFP/ Getty Images / Torsten Blackwood



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Children cross a flooded street after the swollen Fitzroy River broke its banks and inundated the city of Rockhampton on January 5, 2011. AFP/ Getty Images / Torsten Blackwood



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Residents use boats to travel down the road after the swollen Fitzroy River broke its banks and flooded the city of Rockhampton on January 5, 2011. AFP/ Getty Images / Torsten Blackwood



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Locals continue to drink at the Fitzroy pub as the waters rise around them after the swollen Fitzroy River broke its banks and flooded the city of Rockhampton on January 5, 2011. AFP/ Getty Images / Torsten Blackwood



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Gaye Buckenham (L), Jie Wood (C) and Rob Hage (R) travel down the street by boat to get supplies after the swollen Fitzroy River broke its banks and flooded the city of Rockhampton on January 5, 2011. AFP/ Getty Images / Torsten Blackwood



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Emergency personnel look for residents in need of evacuation after the swollen Fitzroy River broke its banks and flooded the city of Rockhampton on January 5, 2011. AFP/ Getty Images / Torsten Blackwood



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Cats find refuge on a fence above the flood water level on January 6, 2011 in Rockhampton, Australia. Getty Images / Jonathan Wood



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A mother pulls her son through flood waters along their local street on January 5, 2011 in Rockhampton, Australia. Getty Images / Jonathan Wood



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A man walks from his home through flood waters late in the afternoon on January 6, 2011 in Rockhampton, Australia. Getty Images / Jonathan Wood



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Two home owners watch on as flood waters cover their front lawn and street on January 5, 2011 in Rockhampton, Australia. Getty Images / Jonathan Wood



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Local residents relax as their home is surrounded by flood waters on January 5, 2011 in Rockhampton, Australia. Getty Images / Jonathan Wood



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A rural industrial area, south of Rockhampton, Australia, is overwhelmed by floodwaters Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011. AP / Patrick Hamilton



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In this Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011 photo, floodwaters are seen in the Depot Hill district of Rockhampton, Australia. AP / Janie Barrett



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In this Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011 photo, the Raffles Hotel in the Berserker district of Rockhampton, AP / Janie Barrett



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In this handout photo provided by Maranoa Regional Council an aeriel view of the swollen Balonne River is seen just before water levels peaked at 12.75 metres on January 4, 2011 in Surat, Australia. Getty Images / Maranoa Regional Council via Get



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In this Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011 photo, crops are inundated by the rising floodwaters west of Rockhampton, Australia. AP / Janie Barrett



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Rising flood waters inundate fertile farmland near Rockhampton on January 5, 2011 after the swollen Fitzroy River broke its banks. AFP/ Getty Images / Torsten Blackwood



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The city of Rockhampton is completely surrounded by flood waters on January 5, 2011 after the swollen Fitzroy River broke its banks. AFP/ Getty Images / Torsten Blackwood



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Rising flood waters claim another farmhouse after the swollen Fitzroy River broke its banks and flooded the city of Rockhampton and surrounding farmland on January 5, 2011. AFP/ Getty Images / Torsten Blackwood



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A farmhouse is surrounded by water after the swollen Fitzroy River broke its banks and flooded the city of Rockhampton and surrounding farmland on January 5, 2011. AFP/ Getty Images / Torsten Blackwood



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Locals use boats to get to the Pioneer pub as the flood waters keep rising after the Fitzroy River broke its banks and inundated much of Rockhampton on January 4, 2011. AFP/ Getty Images / Torsten Blackwood



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A building in the city center is reflected in flood water at dusk on January 6, 2011 in Rockhampton, Australia. Getty Images / Jonathan Wood



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A street in the city center is shown covered in flood water on January 5, 2011 in Rockhampton, Australia. Getty Images / Jonathan Wood



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A main street of the city center is shown covered in flood water on January 5, 2011 in Rockhampton, Australia. Getty Images / Jonathan Wood



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A resident paddles a kayak loaded with XXXX beer back to his flooded home after the swollen Fitzroy River broke its banks and inundated the city of Rockhampton on January 5, 2011. AFP/ Getty Images / Torsten Blackwood



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