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BRISBANE, Jan 29 AAP

January 29 2013, 8:44PM

Central and southern Queensland face a mammoth recovery task as record-breaking flood waters recede.

Thousands of people have been displaced as rivers and creeks, swollen by torrential rain from ex-tropical cyclone Oswald, rose up and inundated homes and businesses on Monday and Tuesday.

In the worst-hit city of Bundaberg, 2000 homes and 200 businesses were inundated when the river reached a record height on Tuesday afternoon.

More than 7500 displaced residents are seeking refuge in evacuation centres or with friends and family on higher ground.

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman toured Bundaberg on Tuesday and urged Queenslanders to aid disaster victims.

"They all need our support. We've got to reach out and help them now," he said.

Mr Newman also paid tribute to the resilience of residents, who in some cases have weathered four floods in three years.

"It's incredible to see the spirit of Queenslanders out on the streets of their cities and towns as they grapple with what is a big crisis."

The news was better for residents of Brisbane and Ipswich in the southeast, where water levels peaked lower than expected.

Early indications are that water stayed below floorboard level in Brisbane, while about 35 homes in Ipswich had water in their living areas.

It was a world away from the disaster of January 2011.

Then, tens of thousands of homes in the southeast were inundated and Brisbane's damage bill ran into the tens of millions.

In coming days the city's key challenge will be to maintain water supplies after the flooding forced the shutdown of two processing plants.

Residents have been told to limit water use around the home until further notice.

As the flood waters recede, attention will turn to the huge damage bill and recovery task.

The premier says Bundaberg will be the focus and has arranged for 400-500 soldiers to help clean the city up.

Already 9,800 insurance claims have been lodged in Queensland worth a combined $116 million, according to the Insurance Council of Australia.

The damage to infrastructure is still being assessed but it's been estimated the bill will still reach the hundreds of millions, without counting crop and livestock losses.

The Queensland premier is urging people to donate to the government's Queensland Flood Appeal which is being coordinated with Red Cross.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Governor-General Quentin Bryce are expected to visit flood-affected regions in Queensland in coming days.