Townsville under water as north Queensland drenched in 'unprecedented' rain

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"We still don't know how much more rain will fall in the catchment, " she said.

Paul Shafer and his family lost two cars, a truck and a caravan when water was released from the dam, a risky move created to spare the town from more widespread flooding.

Up to 20,000 homes are at risk of being inundated if the rains continue.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says touring flood-affected far north Queensland has been "overwhelming" but that he hopes his visit has given comfort to stricken Townsville residents.

Emergency services tackled thousands of calls from people overnight around the city of Townsville, where evacuation centers were filling up. There's more water coming, make steps to keep yourself safe.

"It's a little bit scary because when it floods in Townsville, the crocs get into the water".

The army, police and emergency crews helped more than 1100 people evacuate their homes on Sunday night and efforts continued on Monday, with the aid of every available boat, helicopters and even tip trucks repurposed by resourceful council staff to carry people. He couldn't say how many people are still stuck in the area.

"What we're seeing in and around Townsville is absolutely devastating for the families and community but more help is on its way", he said. "Unprecedented areas of flooding will occur in Townsville", a statement by the bureau said, adding there was a "risk to life and property".

Schools in Townsville remain closed and a decision will be made early on Monday about whether to reopen the city's airport after all flights were cancelled late on Sunday.

"Everyone should ensure they move away from riverbanks and get to higher ground", the alert said.

In hardest-hit Rosslea, Megan Simmonds, 26, has been helping neighbours carry out their belongings from devastated homes where many are already under 2m of water.

Woolworths Northern Queensland Operations Manager Tina Anandji said the company had "secured two charter planes to carry 3,000 tonnes of fresh food and essential items" to the northern city of Cairns. Local resident Gresham Ross told 9 News that the floodwaters are the highest he's seen in 30 years of living in the area.

Desperate residents had to contend not only with flash flooding, landslides and power blackouts, but also reptilian predators that have been spotted in residential roads and cul-de-sacs.

The trough that's been dumping flooding rain on north Queensland's east coast, and drought-hit parts of western Queensland, will drive the state's emergency for days to come.

Sasha Ngamoki posted photos on social media to pass on her gratitude to Chris from Armesto's Transport and BM Webb who pulled her family out of a risky situation.