BUNDABERG has been dealt a major blow with its port last night closed indefinitely as the city begins to count the cost of the Burnett River’s biggest flood in half a century.
Floodwaters have split the Fraser Coast’s northern neighbour in two, inundating 120 properties and forcing almost 400 evacuations.
The Burnett River peaked at 7.9 metres overnight, its highest level since 1942 when it reached 8.4 metres.
“Bundaberg is now split in two,” deputy mayor Tony Ricciardi said.
He said 100 homes and two dozen businesses had water above the floorboards.
About 400 people were evacuated overnight – most staying with family and friends but about 100 headed to evacuation centres for the night.
A second evacuation centre was set up overnight at North Bundaberg State High School, with 40 people seeking shelter there.
In the city, 84 people were holed up at the Civic Centre.
The river was receding slowly and at 7am yesterday it was at 7.85 metres, according to Bureau of Meteorology spokesman Chris Edhouse.
Cr Ricciardi said the town was facing a massive clean-up bill and farmers in the region had also been hit very hard.
He said Bundaberg was the largest tomato-growing region in Queensland and many macadamia, avocado and sugar cane farmers would be severely affected.
The flooding in Bundaberg will wipe out the region’s $10 million seafood industry, Burnett MP Rob Messenger says.
The Burnett River destroyed three of the four seafood processors factories on the river.
Scallop processor Seth Parker said insurance companies refused to compensate operators for flood damage and now workers faced losing their jobs.
“I would say that we will all go bankrupt, the three processors that I’m talking about, will all definitely go bankrupt, there’s no doubt about that and we desperately need help,” Mr Parker said.
About 150 people are employed on up to 30 fishing boats which operate out of the Burnett River. Seafood processors employ another 200 workers. Mr Messenger said they would be forced on to unemployment benefits if the government didn’t come to their aid.