Australian Authorities Urge Residents Of Queensland Town To Flee Floods

Australian authorities on Monday pleaded with hundreds of people, who had chosen to remain in a town in the path of rising flood waters, to vacate their homes.

An aerial view of flood affected streets on February 3, 2012 in Moree, Australia.

Australian authorities on Monday pleaded with hundreds of people, who had chosen to remain in a town in the path of rising flood waters, to vacate their homes.

The level of the Balonne River in the town of St. George, in the eastern state of Queensland, swelled to 13.63 meters at lunchtime on Monday, breaking its previous record, and was expected to crest overnight above 14 meters.

"We can't and won't physically drag people out of their homes," Bob Atkinson, the Queensland police commissioner, said. "But we repeat the request for people to leave their homes."

Thirty houses in St. George have already been inundated, according to Neil Roberts, the Queensland police and emergency services minister. "We do expect this to rise as the waters head towards their peak," he said.

Authorities had already been using military helicopters and a C-130 cargo plane to airlift thousands of stranded Queensland residents to safety. Hundreds of people were taking shelter in evacuation centers Monday.

Rescue workers on Sunday recovered the body of a woman who died trying to drive her pickup through flood waters, the authorities said. Jane Sheahan was swept away Friday in the town of Roma.

Witnesses told CNN affiliate Nine Network that Sheahan managed to hand off her 7-year-old son, Darcy, to a would-be rescuer before she was swept away.

In the neighboring state of New South Wales, thousands of people remained isolated Sunday despite reports of receding floodwaters in some areas.