Jan 29, 2013 / 7:36 pm
Military personnel headed to flood-ravaged northeast Australia on Wednesday to help clean up the sludgy aftermath of floods that damaged thousands of homes and businesses and left some communities short of power, food and water.
Floodwaters were receding in most areas, bringing relief to a region that was battered by worse floods just two years ago. But there were concerns about food and water shortages in some communities, thousands were without power and police were desperately hunting for two men who vanished while travelling through floodwaters earlier this week. Four flood-related deaths were confirmed previously.
Around 120 soldiers were en route to the hardest-hit city of Bundaberg in Queensland, 385 kilometres (240 miles) north of Brisbane. The flooding, caused by the remnants of a tropical cyclone, forced around 7,500 Bundaberg residents from their homes, inundated 2,000 houses and 200 businesses with murky water and prompted helicopter evacuations of 1,000 people.
As the cleanup began Wednesday, some residents complained about dwindling food supplies.
"People were almost coming to blows this morning at the local shop fighting over bread rolls," said Chris Pasky of Moore Park, just outside Bundaberg. "We've got a baby in the house we can't feed. We've just been forgotten."
In Brisbane, residents were warned to conserve water after muddy floodwaters put pressure on the city's water treatment plants. Queensland Premier Campbell Newman told Australian Broadcasting Corp. that stocks of bottled water were ready to be distributed to residents if the reservoirs run dry.
In other areas, officials scrambled to deliver supplies to residents still cut off by the slowly-receding waters.
"We're discovering people who are isolated, without power, without water, and we're going to be getting some long-life milk and bread supplies in through four-wheel drive later today," said Pam Parker, mayor of Logan City, south of Brisbane.
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