Rockhampton is set for its worst flood in 60 years, with the Cyclone Debbie damage bill already over $1 billion

A car is seen on a central Lismore street on April 2. Heavy rain caused flash flooding in south east Queensland and Northern New South Wales as as ex-cyclone Debbie makes its way south across the country. Photo: Jason O’Brien/ Getty Images.

The damage bill for ex-tropical Cyclone Debbie­ is expected to surpass $1 billion.

According to the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA), there have been more than 13,000 claims relating to weather produced by the cyclone.

ICA CEO Rob Whelan said on Friday, “This level of catastrophe has not been seen since ex-TC Oswald… when storms and flooding affected large parts of Queensland and NSW and caused insurance losses of almost $1.2 billion.”

He assured that insurers were mobilising response teams to help households and businesses in northern New South Wales and south-east Queensland.

The estimates come as Rockhampton, in between Mackay and the Sunshine Coast, prepares for its worst flood in 60 years.

As many as 8000 homes and 20,000 people could be affected as the water level in the local Fitzroy River starts to swell.

Authorities predict the Rockhampton flood could hit a peak of 9.4 metres on Wednesday night.

Army personnel and emergency services have been deployed to the area.

The aftermath of flooding on April 2 in Murwillumbah , Australia. Category 4 Cyclone Debbie hit Northern Queensland on Tuesday 28 March, causing widespread damage. Photo: Jason O’Brien/ Getty Images.

Queensland police commissioner Ian Stewart said the flooding to hit Rockhampton would be unlike that which hit the Gold Coast and parts of northern NSW.

“This is not something that will suddenly happen, but water will gradually rise in Rockhampton and surrounding areas,” he said.

At least five people have died as a result of Cyclone Debbie, while searches are still under way in Queensland for three more people.

Parts of the east coast of Australia from Ayr to Lismore have been drenched by the storm’s aftermath, after it made landfall as a Category 4 cyclone last Tuesday.

Thousands of homes remain without power in the north Queensland commun­it­ies of Bowen and Proserpine, the worst hit area.

ICA has activated its disaster hotline (1800 734 621) to help policyholders if they are uncertain which insurer they are with, or have general inquiries about the claims process.

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