BRISBANE, Australia — Flooded communities across eastern Australia could be under water for more than a week, with the cleanup bill expected to hit billions of dollars, a state official said Thursday.
Days of torrential downpours have left parts of central and southern Queensland state inundated, flooding thousands of homes and businesses, cutting off roads and forcing the entire populations of two towns to evacuate.
The rain eased Thursday, but river levels continued to rise in many locations as high waters made their way toward the sea. Communities already swamped could remain under water for up to 10 days, Queensland state Premier Anna Bligh warned Thursday.
"It's an enormous disaster," she told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio. "The recovery ... is going to require literally billions of dollars from federal, state and local governments (and) insurance companies."