In the wake of Cyclone Debbie, 500mm of rainfall, flash-flooding and 125 km/h winds are expected to thrash South East Queensland over the next several hours, prompting authorities to close schools and order residents to stay at home. Rain is also deluging large parts of NSW.
Worryingly, Little Nerang Dam is at 117 per cent and already spilling. The Coomera River is about to burst it’s banks and the Hinze dam is at 100 per cent.
John Tyson, whose wife Donna Rice and 13-year-old son Jordan perished in the 2011 floods, is urging his fellow Queenslanders not to take any risks.
‘Stay at home,’ he says.
‘You’ve got to take it serious and you never ever take risks because it can happen in the blink of an eye
‘In one change of traffic lights, my wife’s car went from having no water to being completely engulfed.
‘So before you walk out the door take a good look at your children and think: “Do I really want to come back here again?”
‘At the end of the day it’s just not worth it.’
John, 52, believes it’s crucial that everyone has a flood action plan in place.
‘You really need to take stock of what you’re going to do when it does happen.
‘Have a basic plan in place so you all assemble in the one spot; the bathroom, the laundry or the toilet, a smaller room so there’s a greater chance of survival.
‘Have a simple kit so you have portable water to drink, you light candles or flashlights or have a wind up torch so they don’t need batteries, have a photocopy of your ID so if the worst happens you can still access federal or state help.
‘Keep your children close, keep everyone together, and work on your survival plan.’
Recalling what happened to Donna and Jordan - who repeatedly called Triple 0 for help when floodwaters began to engulf them - John says:
‘Don’t ever take on face value that help is a phone call away because it’s not.
‘Emergency services all got caught off guard, and have done in the past on many occasions, so don’t ever think you can rely on help.
‘You’ve got to really, really prepare and provide yourself with the right skills and the right tools to survive.
‘Often it’s only seconds between life and death. If you’ve thought about it and if you’ve talked as a family you’ll know how to act.’
John will never get over the loss of Donna and Jordan, who died saving his younger sibling Blake, then 10.
Jordan told told rescuers: “Take my brother first.” Moments later, he and his mother were swept to their deaths.
‘I’d hate for anyone else to be caught in that situation,’ John laments.
A severe weather warning also remains in place for the New South Wales coastline from Lismore to Sydney.
‘The clear message from us today is do not underestimate the power and potential of this rainfall. This can’t be underestimated all down the eastern seaboard. We need to make sure we are taking action, strong action, now,’ said Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart.