FRAN’S FURY: Fierce winds whipped up by Cyclone Fran pushed this tree on to a caravan at Elliott Heads Caravan Park in March 1992.
FRAN’S FURY: Fierce winds whipped up by Cyclone Fran pushed this tree on to a caravan at Elliott Heads Caravan Park in March 1992. Newsmail

Cyclone in July? It happened in Bundy in 1954

WEATHER watchers were taken by surprise last week when a tropical cyclone formed near the Solomon Islands.

Cyclone season is assumed to be over by July, but Tropical Cyclone Raquel formed near the islands before moving in a south-southwesterly direction.

But is not unknown to have a cyclone in July, as the Bundaberg district found to its cost in 1954.

The Queensland coast was hit with eight cyclones in that year, with seven of them battering the Bundaberg region.

The first July cyclone in 19 years hit Bundaberg, delivering a record monthly rainfall of 470mm.

It was the second time the district was hit with major flooding that year, with a downpour in February also causing floods.

The July cyclone that year brought flooding rains, high seas and gale force winds to the district.

More than 200 people were driven from their homes by the floodwaters, with 70 homes in low-lying areas in East and South Bundaberg evacuated.

Water several metres deep flowed through hundreds of yards.

Twenty-five families from the block between Targo, Barolin, Electra and George Sts left, as did another eight in Crofton St and six in Woondooma St.

Worst hit was the Biggenden area, where people had to sit on rooftops waiting for the Mungore and Degilbo creeks to subside.

Damage was extensive, with 500 dairy cattle and 100 pigs dying in the flood, which also destroyed hectares of grain and nut crops.

But despite the frequent rain, the year's rainfall only totalled 1580mm - just 440mm above the average.

A cyclone in February hit the region particularly hard, dumping 4141mm of rain in the 24 hours to 9am on February 2.

The storm also claimed the life of toddler Alan William Page, who drowned in a stormwater channel near his Barolin St home and was carried by the torrent to Saltwater Creek.

The cyclonic winds whipped up heavy seas at Burnett Heads, and cane and tobacco farmers were concerned the heavy falls could damage their crops.

By February 10 the Isis and Kolan rivers were flooded; most main roads were closed from Mackay south.

Brisbane, Rockhampton and the Northern Rivers of NSW experienced their worst floods of the century, which claimed 25 lives.

Bundaberg also prepared for severe flooding because of rain falling in the hinterland.

Wallaville farmers had to ferry their cream by dinghy over the Burnett River to a butter factory truck when the water reached 4.88m over the bridge.

Accommodation ran short in Howard, with some travellers camping in the school shelter shed when they were stranded by flooding at the Isis River Bridge.

A Bundaberg ambulance became bogged while answering a call at Pine Creek, and had to be towed out by a truck.

Rain fell all night and continued during the morning, but the river peaked at 4.8m, well under the 1942 level of 8.6m



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