Thursday, January 13, 2011

Water, water everywhere...

For an up-to-date online coverage of the Queensland floods check this site.

The flood waters have reached Brisbane, with the river breaking its banks and peaking at 4.46 metres early this morning which is thankfully about 1 metre less than the 1974 flood peak of 5.45 metres. Nevertheless, due to population and building growth in Brisbane over the last three decades, the loss of lives, homes, businesses and infrastructure will unfortunately exceed the 1974 flood disaster.

Check out this dramatic footage of a yacht loose on Brisbane river this afternoon. Two men are trying to save the yacht and are thrown into the water as it sinks.

Luckily both men were rescued shortly after.

15 people are confirmed dead in south-east Queensland since 10 January, 61 people are still missing from the Toowoomba/Lockyer Valley area, and police hold grave fears for 12 of those missing people.

It's not just Brisbane, Australia's 3rd largest city, that is suffering. The whole state of Queensland has been affected by flooding since the beginning of December 2010. The floods have forced the evacuation of thousands of people from towns and cities. At least 70 towns and over 200,000 people have been affected. Three-quarters of the state of Queensland has been declared a disaster zone — an area larger than Texas and California combined.

Our local supermarket this afternoon - no fruit or vegetables left.

Water has flooded into the streets of over 30 Brisbane suburbs and it's been reported that around 30,000 properties have been affected by water damage. The central business district (CBD) of Brisbane has been virtually shut down since Wednesday 12 January with all power cut as a precautionary measure. My office, and thousands of other offices in the CBD are shut due to this disaster. It's unlikely the CBD will be safe for businesses to reopen until at least Monday next week. I've worked in Brisbane's central business district for 25 years and have never seen anything on this scale.

The bridge over our local creek on Brisbane's north side. There is a submerged footpath to the right of the handrails.

I've been on leave from work since 24 December 2010 to look after our kids while they're on break before school resumes later this month. I'm not due back at work until 31 January and I've been glued to the continuous television coverage of this natural disaster. I was 7 years old when the floods hit Brisbane in 1974 and I still remember the constant rain at that time and seeing the awful images on television.

It's not only the human population that has been affected. There has also been a loss to animal life and destruction of the natural habitat of many creatures. Some are more lucky than others. Check out the video below that I took of a kookaburra who took shelter on our deck during some of the rainy weather on Tuesday.

In the big scheme of world events this is only a minor natural disaster compared to, for example, the devastation and loss of life in the 2010 Haiti earthquake (est. 316,000 dead) or the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami (230,210 dead). To put it into further perspective, parts of Brazil are currently suffering flooding and mudslides and sadly it has been reported that the death toll there is over 400 and rising. We can count ourselves here in Brisbane to be relatively lucky. However, this local flood is affecting my community, my state and my country and is therefore naturally a more personal experience for me. Let's hope the tragic loss of life won't climb too much higher.

At least there is still a sense of humour around. Check out this photo tweeted by @mackiemarsellos showing the iconic Wally Lewis statue outside the flooded Suncorp Stadium.

Floods come and go and Brisbane will recover but I'm sure we'll be talking about the 2011 flood for many years to come.

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