Tens of thousands properties remain at risk if the north Queensland flood crisis worsens as expected.
Police, soldiers and emergency services were door-knocking on Saturday in Townsville, the epicentre of the one-in-100 year event, warning more water is on its way.
People were warned to think about moving to safety before dark, particularly those in low lying houses.
“The window is closing very, very, very quickly,” acting chief superintendent Steve Munro told reporters.
About 300 homes were affected at about 1700 (AEST) on Saturday.
“We are expecting that to rise to about 400 to 500 homes overnight out of a population of 80,000,” he said.
“If the rain continues overnight and into tomorrow, if we keep going the way we are today, we are talking about 10,000 to 20,000 homes.”
More than the annual rainfall has fallen on parts of north Queensland in the past week, creating a disaster area stretching 700km along the coast from Cairns to Mackay
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has warned the next 24 to 48 hours “are crucial” and urged people to monitor warnings from authorities.
Overnight swift water rescue crews helped 80 people move to higher ground, and they spent Saturday guiding more through flooded streets.
The bulging Ross River dam was at 216 per cent capacity at 1700 despite gates being opened to let water out.
About 100 homes were evacuated near the dam as the water was released.
Paul Shafer and his family lost two cars, a truck and a caravan when water was released from the dam, a risky move designed to spare the town from more widespread flooding.
He understood the decision but said it was demoralising to see the destruction at his Hermit Park park home where water flows through the ground level of his home.
“We have decided to stay rather than evacuate, we still have electricity but it will be a sleepless night ahead, that’s for sure.”
The rain and flash flooding began a week ago causing power and phone outages, closing roads and businesses and inundating homes.
Huge downpours cause major flooding and evacuations near Townsville
The flooding has begun to spread inland to drought stricken western Queensland where grazier Cameron Kennedy said a week ago he was desperately praying for rain – now he wants is for it to stop.
His Castle Hill property outside Winton is now an island surrounded by an inland sea after receiving “bloody heaps” of rain, some 348mm since Tuesday.
Not too far from Winton, a grazier in a helicopter rescued four tourists trapped in a car after being stranded by the flooded Diamantina River.
State Disaster Coordinator Bob Gee is urging people to stay out of the water and check emergency and weather warnings – which are updated regularly.
Further north, coastal communities on the Gulf of Carpentaria are preparing for the highest tides of year and gale force winds.