Third storm batters Queensland

Members of the Brisbane Broncos rugby league team remove debris from under a house damaged by a...
Members of the Brisbane Broncos rugby league team remove debris from under a house damaged by a powerful storm in Brisbane, Australia, yesterday. (AP Photo/Tertius Pickard)
Southeast Queensland has been battered by the third wild storm this week, amid warnings of more of the severe weather that has already claimed two lives and left a damages bill of around $500 million ($NZ600 million).

Another storm swept through the region on Thursday night, cutting power to tens of thousands of homes and inflicting more pain on victims struggling to repair earlier flooding and gale damage.

Police on Thursday afternoon recovered the body of an 85-year-old woman who died when a car was carried away by raging floodwaters west of Brisbane.

The death, which followed that of a 20-year-old man on Sunday night, came as emergency crews were stretched to deal with fresh flood damage across Brisbane, Ipswich and the Lockyer Valley.

The area was deluged by up to 250mm of rain between Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

About 10,000 insurance claims worth $95 million have been lodged so far, but insurers say the total damage bill, including infrastructure, is nudging $500 million.

Premier Anna Bligh on Thursday activated the state's natural disaster plan, allowing greater coordination and giving assistance to more families than the previous declaration on Sunday.

Ms Bligh confirmed an elderly woman died after being trapped in a car swept off a crossing about 7.40am on Thursday at Forest Hill, near Gatton.

The victim's elderly husband was recovering in hospital.

"You are reminded of the awesome power of nature," Ms Bligh said as she inspected damage around Ipswich.

Emergency services logged more than 1200 calls for assistance after Wednesday's night storm, with Ipswich, Bundamba and the Lockyer Valley the worst-affected areas.

Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale said emergency services, SES volunteers and Australian Defence Force personnel were responding to the calls, while also still dealing with Sunday's damage.

"It's like a wall of water washed through the city with cars washed off roads and very widespread flooding," Mr Pisasale told AAP.

Energex said the band of storms early on Thursday evening cut power to 45,000 homes and businesses across Brisbane, Logan, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast.

Brisbane suburbs devastated by the storms on Sunday and Wednesday again suffered significant damage, while a Department of Emergency Services spokesman said Blackwater, near Emerald in central Queensland, was hit hard.

Gregory MP Vaughan Johnson, who was driving when the storm hit Blackwater, said it was "terrifying".

"It's pretty grim there, there's been a lot of damage, a lot of devastation," he told ABC radio.

From 4.15pm to 9pm Thursday the SES hotline took 547 calls from across the region, including 199 from Brisbane, 65 from the Gold Coast, 31 from Ipswich and 41 from Blackwater.

South-east Queensland is still mopping up from Sunday's storm that damaged about 4000 homes in Brisbane's north-west, and Wednesday night's downpour that flooded the Ipswich area, west of Brisbane.

Emergency crews are gearing up for more severe storms forecast for Saturday and Ms Bligh said steps were being taken to ensure well-rested defence and emergency personnel were available to help again.

"We know that the most severe storm that we can expect is likely on Saturday and we want to make sure that the people who are likely to be dealing with it have had sufficient rest," Ms Bligh said.

Queensland Fire and Rescue Service on Thursday carried out 31 swift water rescues, mainly motorists trapped on flooded roads.

One Newmarket woman, Jessica Barr, was rescued from her home.

"I heard banging and crashing and panic set in," she told ABC Radio.

A pregnant woman was rescued and taken to Gold Coast Hospital after she went into labour while stuck between two overflowing creeks near Oxenford Road, Tamborine, about 1am Thursday.







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