Massive Flooding In Australia Expected To Crest Wednesday

Epic flooding that has covered large swaths of Australia will peak on Wednesday, forecasters said, as aid groups scrambled to send supplies to residents. "We're expecting it to crest at 9.2 meters (30 feet), and then it's eventually going to fall," CNN meteorologist Jennifer Delgado said Wednesday. "But the problem is it's going to stay above major flooding as we go through the next week." Flooding could continue for the next two weeks, she said. Are you there? Send us your video and photos via iReport The seasonal flooding in the state of Queensland intensified about a week ago after monsoon rains caused rivers to spill their banks and reach record levels. The floodwater has covered an area the size of France and Germany combined.

(CNN)

In this image made from AuBC video via Associated Press Television News, State Emergency Service (SES) workers on boats, along with a couple, left, make their ways in a flooded street in Rockhampton, Australia, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011. Days of pounding rain last week left much of northeastern Australia swamped by a sea of muddy water, with flooding affecting about 200,000 people in an area larger than France and Germany combined.

Epic flooding that has covered large swaths of Australia will peak on Wednesday, forecasters said, as aid groups scrambled to send supplies to residents.

"We're expecting it to crest at 9.2 meters (30 feet), and then it's eventually going to fall," CNN meteorologist Jennifer Delgado said Wednesday. "But the problem is it's going to stay above major flooding as we go through the next week."

Flooding could continue for the next two weeks, she said.

The seasonal flooding in the state of Queensland intensified about a week ago after monsoon rains caused rivers to spill their banks and reach record levels. The floodwater has covered an area the size of France and Germany combined.

Images from CNN affiliate Seven Network Australia showed residents traveling down the streets in boats. From the sky, the tops of houses and trees poked out from seas of murky brown water. Snakes whipped about from under the water's surface.

Flooding fueled by cyclone, La Nina

The flooding has affected the global transport of commodities such as coal and steel, as rail lines used to move such goods out of Queensland have been destroyed.

Forecasters predict even more rain in the coming days. Delgado said 20 centimeters (8 inches) could fall through Thursday.

On Tuesday, relief teams continued rushing supplies into the eastern city of Rockhampton. In some of the state's more rural areas, farmers said they were scrambling to send tons of crops out before waters damaged them and flooding made their transport impossible.

Police said 10 people have died as a result of flooding since November 30 -- many of them swept away by swift waters.

An airport in Rockhampton, a city of about 75,000 people, closed Sunday and was expected to remain closed for weeks, according to Emergency Management Queensland.

This image made from AuBC video via Associated Press Television News shows police checking a house to see if it's occupied on a flooded street in Rockhampton, Australia, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011. Days of pounding rain last week left much of northeastern Australia swamped by a sea of muddy water, with flooding affecting about 200,000 people in an area larger than France and Germany combined.

At least 200,000 people have been affected by prolonged flooding, police said. In Rockhampton, authorities have estimated that about 500 homes had been evacuated, with more expected as the floodwater rises.

Police have warned residents who have been allowed to return to their homes about placing valuables outside to dry, saying some people could be tempted to take such items. Additional police have been deployed to affected communities.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has urged residents to stay away from the floodwater. On Friday, she toured the devastation and said the flooding in Queensland will cost "hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars."