Update: After the Queensland Government's update, NSW authorities have warned of record flood levels in Lismore and worse conditions to come in the state. Meanwhile, in Brisbane riverside businesses around Howard Smith Wharves have been told to evacuate the area immediately as a pontoon carrying a crane has broken free of its mooring on the Brisbane River. There has also been another death reported today on the Gold Coast, taking the toll to eight.
Insurer Suncorp (ASX: SUN) has already received 5,000 claims as dangerous flooding continues in parts of Southeast Queensland and Northern NSW, but even in Brisbane alone authorities estimate up to 15,000 homes have been impacted by the weather event that has wrought havoc from Maryborough to Toowoomba to Lismore.
This compares to the 3,750 claims Suncorp reported during last year's Victorian flood catastrophe.
The so-called "rain bomb" has been relentless, carried by a low pressure system from the Coral Sea that has lingered past its welcome with severe flooding across the region.
??EVACUATE: HOWARD SMITH WHARVES, RIVERSIDE WALKWAY??— Queensland Police (@QldPolice) February 28, 2022
A pontoon carrying a crane has broken free of its mooring.
Anyone at Howard Smith Wharves, including surrounding businesses and the riverside walkway are to EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY.
The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) received 2,200 requests for assistance overnight and 113 water rescues around Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Beenleigh. Another person has died in the floodwaters as well in Brisbane's northern suburbs, taking the death toll from the disaster to seven.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk reports around 51,000 people are without power around the state and 1,544 are currently in evacuation centres. A further 3,600 homes are estimated to have been affected in Gympie.
"In 2011 the flood peak in Brisbane was 4.46 [metres]. The flood peak is 3.85 [metres] and now falling - it is still a significant event and I think everyone would agree, no one has seen this amount of rain in such a short period of time over our entire Southeast catchment zone," Premier Palaszczuk said.
"I also want to extend my gratitude and thanks to the hundreds if not thousands of workers out there - the SES crews, the police, our fireys, our volunteers, all of the council workers. Everybody is doing an unbelievable job."
More than a thousand schools have been closed in the region and 17 councils have been activated for assistance, while around 200 defence personnel are also ready for deployment to assist.
Diana Eadie from the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) said as there could be a secondary peak for the Brisbane River around 8pm, followed by another tomorrow at approximately 9am. She expects the Bremer River in Ipswich could reach 17 metres this afternoon, and notes water levels in parts of the Logan River have approached those experienced during ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie in 2017.
"The most intense rain has now eased for large parts of Southeast Queensland, though the threat continues for far southern parts of the Gold Coast area and the Scenic Rim," Eadie said.
"That really intense rain is now shifting into northeast New South Wales and easing for much of Southeast Queensland," she said.
"That being said, the risk for significant flooding is still very real."
Suncorp reported it would have a maximum retained cost from the event at a maximum of $75 million from a full-year outlook for natural hazard costs of more than $1 billion.
Of the company's claims received so far, 70 per cent are in Southeast Queensland and 30 per cent are in Northern NSW. More than 80 per cent of total claims relate to home damage.
“Right now, safety is the number one priority as we continue to face significant and dangerous weather conditions. Many roads, homes and businesses remain flooded so we must wait until it is safe to evaluate the impact," Suncorp Group CEO Steve Johnston said.
"Customers should lodge their claims when it is safe to do so, with online lodgement fast and easy. We can arrange emergency repairs, organise temporary accommodation for customers whose homes have been severely damaged and provide cash payments to make emergency purchases.
"The next few weeks will be challenging for residents as they return to their homes, assess the damage and start the clean-up. Our team of dedicated client managers for each major home claim is ready to help on the long road to recovery."
The weather event was declared a catastrophe on Friday by Insurance Council of Australia, and at that time the industry had received 3,500 claims in Southeast Queensland over a three-day period.
SUN shares fell 3.5 per cent this morning, while other ASX-listed insurers such as Insurance Australia Group (ASX: IAG) and QBE (ASX: QBE) are down 3.86 per cent and 2.59 per cent respectively.
Help us deliver quality journalism to you.
As a free and independent news site providing daily updates
during a period of unprecedented challenges for businesses everywhere
we call on your support