Flooded west Qld town now hit with drought
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BRISBANE, Jan 22 AAP
January 22 2013, 2:40PM
Farmers in a western Queensland town that was ravaged by floods are losing their crops to drought almost a year later.
Residents of St George, west of Brisbane, had to evacuate their homes after flood levels rose to record heights in February last year.
But now farmers are praying for rain, with many having to sacrifice some of their crops in an effort to make their dwindling water supplies hold out.
Balonne Shire Mayor Donna Stewart said it was ironic a year after the floods, residents were looking at water restrictions from February 1.
She said while the Balonne River was "virtually running dry", planning was proceeding for a levee bank to protect St George from future floods.
"It's a bit surreal I suppose," she told AAP.
"You'd never have thought we'd be in this situation less than 12 months ago.
"And who knows? In two weeks time, if the good Lord says so, we might be back in flood."
Ms Stewart said farmers were hopeful heavy falls in catchment areas upstream would flow to the town in the next few weeks.
Cotton farmer Cleave Rogan said yields were lost last year when crops became waterlogged and now farmers were reducing their crop sizes to conserve water.
"It seems so extreme being in this sort of situation but it's part of living on the land really," he said.
Mr Rogan said while he had been through harsher droughts, times were still tough.
"We're as positive as we can be," he said.
"But a lot of crops have been ploughed in, so that makes it hard."
More than 2500 St George residents were evacuated to Brisbane and Dalby during floods the 2012 floods, when the Balonne River peaked at a record 13.96m.
By Nathan Paull