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Record flooding hits eastern Australia

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Thousands flee flooding in Australia
  • Towns in Queensland look like lakes
  • Emergency workers call the situation dire
  • More rain is forecast and rivers are expected to rise

(CNN) -- Australians struggled to keep dry Tuesday after record flooding made many eastern towns look more like vast lakes than residential communities.

Half of Queensland has been declared a disaster zone, and more rain is forecast for the next few days, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. The towns of Chinchilla, Dalby and Theodore are the worst affected.

Emergency workers called the situation dire and warned the worst is yet to come. The floodwaters were expected to submerge another 50 homes in Chinchilla, in Queensland's southern inland, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported Tuesday.

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Flood warnings remained in effect for several rivers and some were expected to still rise 1.5 meters (about 5 feet).

In Theodore, residents sandbagged their homes. Hundreds of others were evacuated.

"Chinchilla and Dalby are also hot spots at the moment with large numbers of people in evacuation centers, but I think the situation in those two areas is much better than Theodore," Bruce Grady of Queensland Emergency Management told Australia's Seven Network.

Still, some were able to keep their spirits high.

"I'll be saving on bathwater tonight: just jump out here," a Theodore resident told Seven.