More funding is on the way for Queenslanders reeling from wild weather, including millions of lightning strikes.
The prime minister flew into the Gold Coast on Tuesday to announce another $50 million in financial assistance as the full extent of storm damage to the southeast was revealed.
Anthony Albanese was joined by Queensland Premier Steven Miles who said there had been a staggering 3.5 million lightning strikes taking down nearly 1000 power lines during the recent storms.
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“It took 80,000 work hours to get them reconnected, 120km of wires, 150 poles had to be replaced,” Miles said.
A tornado hit the Gold Coast on Christmas Day, followed by storms and flash flooding that also wreaked havoc in the Logan and Scenic Rim regions.
The wild weather over Christmas initially left more than 130,000 homes without power but work to restore electricity was finally completed on Sunday night.
More severe thunderstorms are possible for Queensland’s southeast this week, with Springfield Lakes west of Brisbane receiving 130mm of rain in three hours on Tuesday morning.
The Gold Coast hinterland region was hit by a tornado on Christmas Day. Credit: 7NEWS
The southeast storms hit after record flooding caused by Tropical Cyclone Jasper devastated the far north.
A major recovery effort that may take years to complete is under way after seven people died in storm-related incidents.
Albanese on Tuesday announced another $50 million would be rolled out with primary producers, small businesses and not-for-profit organisations eligible for a cut of the grants.
“It’s been a very difficult period,” he said.
“Particularly coming as it did around Christmas and New Year, a time when people look forward to celebrating relationships they have with family and friends and not going through the tough time that they have.”
Flooding across Cairns Northern Beaches in Cairns in December. Credit: Queensland Police Service
Primary producers affected by the wild weather of recent weeks will be eligible for up to $75,000 while small businesses and not-for-profits can claim up to $50,000.
Funding will also be provided to the Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire and Douglas Shire councils in the far north as well as the Scenic Rim, Gold Coast and Logan councils in the southeast.
It comes on top of a $64 million package for storm-hit Queenslanders announced in December.
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“We know that there is more to do,” Albanese said.
“We’re here to say that we’re putting our shoulder to the wheel to make sure that can be done.”
So far $10.5 million has been paid in federal disaster relief payments to 60,000 people affected by storms and flooding in the state’s southeast.
A further $4.5 million has been paid to 26,000 people in the far north.
Anthony Albanese and Steven Miles address media at the Gold Coast Emergency Management Centre on Tuesday. Credit: Dave Hunt/AAP
“We’ve also had more than 2000 people reach out for mental health first aid … giving you a sense of the impact that these weather events are having on people’s lives,” Miles said.
Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers warned insurers to “do the right thing” for people affected by disasters across the state.
“People have been through hell in some of these communities, hosing out homes, throwing away a lifetime of belongings or being in physical danger,” he said.
“The last thing people need is insurance companies stuffing them around.”