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Queensland rebuilding ‘huge task’

Posted by alec8c on January 13, 2011 amazing pictures before and after shots of a back garden map of the flooding the very sad story of the boy who showed amazing bravery by telling rescuers to save his younger brother first

The Australian state of Queensland is facing a reconstruction task of “post-war proportions”, as floods left swathes of it under water.

State Premier Anna Bligh said the state was reeling from the worst natural disaster in its history. Powerful flood waters have surged through the state capital, Brisbane, leaving thousands of homes submerged. The floods peaked at a lower level than expected but more than 30 suburbs are under water. Huge amounts of debris – cars, boats and jetties – have been floating downstream, some smashing into bridges. One man died when he was sucked into a storm drain and two more deaths elsewhere were reported by Australian broadcaster ABC, bringing the toll from this week’s flooding to 15, with dozens more missing.

The Brisbane River is now receding and was expected to fall to around 3.2m by early on Friday. It peaked at 4.46m (14.6ft) just before 0530 (1930 GMT Wednesday), short of the 5.4m (17.7ft) in the 1974 floods. West of Brisbane, the small town of Goondiwindi is on high alert, with fears the flooding Macintyre River could swamp the town. Police are continuing to search areas of the Lockyer Valley for those missing after a torrent of water swept through the area on Monday.

“Queensland is reeling this morning from the worst natural disaster in our history and possibly in the history of our nation,” Ms Bligh told reporters.

“We’ve seen three-quarters of our state having experienced the devastation of raging flood waters and we now face a reconstruction task of post-war proportions.”

In Brisbane, the worst-hit suburbs included Brisbane City, St Lucia, West End, Rocklea and Graceville.

“There will be some people that will go into their homes that will find them to be never habitable again,” Ms Bligh said.

Brisbane Mayor Campbell Newman said 11,900 homes and 2,500 businesses had been completely flooded, with 14,700 houses and 2,500 businesses partially submerged.  

Milton resident Brenton Ward reached his home in the suburbs by rowing boat.

“We have water to the waist in the living room. We have to check the amount of damage – probably (the) electricity has to be all rebuilt,” he said.

Other residents said they felt lucky.

“I can handle this,” said Lisa Sully, who had some flood damage to her home in the suburb of Sherwood. “Mentally, I was prepared for worse.”

Many supermarkets in the city have been stripped of supplies, while a number of rubbish collections and bus services have halted. More than 100,000 properties had their power cut to reduce the risk of electrocution. Where waters had receded in the city centre, sticky mud remained. Officials said the clean-up could take months.

Brisbane airport survived the swell and remains open, with almost all flights unaffected. However, passengers are advised to check before travel. Public transport to the airport is severely limited. Extra police have been brought in to patrol the city.

The man who died was a 24-year-old who had gone to check on his father’s property and was sucked into a storm drain.

The bodies of two victims of floods earlier this week were also found, one in the Lockyer Valley and the other in Dalby, ABC said. Sixty-one people are still missing, with police very concerned about 12 people in the Lockyer Valley not seen since their homes were destroyed by a wall of water on Monday.

More rain caused by a cyclone off the Queensland coast is forecast for the next two days. The weeks of rain have been blamed on a La Nina weather pattern in the Pacific.

At the scene

Nick Bryant BBC News, Brisbane

Things are still very bad here – there is widespread devastation. Some 25,000 homes are either partially or totally flooded, but the key thing is the river levels didn’t peak at the high point feared.

The big commercial area will win a reprieve but more than 30 suburbs have been hit and people will be under water for days to come. There will have to be a huge recovery operation throughout the state, so this crisis is far from over.

The floods have devastated much of the agriculture sector and the mining sector. I was speaking to the state treasurer on Wednesday and he said the cost would have a “b” after it – for billions – rather than an “m”.

Eyewitness account:

Brisbane resident Rob Minshull tells the BBC’s World Today programme what life is like camped out on the roof of his home, waiting for the murky floodwaters to subside.

“My house is at least 15m (50ft) high so I’ve got the top deck of my home still free from the water but the rest of my house has gone under. I live opposite a park which is 5m under water – all I can see are the roofs of houses and the tops of trees.

There is one person left in the street along with me. I can see him on his roof; he’s about four houses down and we both have our mattresses on the roof.

We decided to stay, we told the emergency services we were staying, but everybody else has evacuated either by dinghy or several people climbed over the top of my roof. I’ve got the highest house in the street, and people were using my roof to get to houses on higher ground at the back.

That was several hours ago. Since then there have been lots of helicopters flying overhead. I’ve lost power and we’ve got no running water.

‘Ghost town’

The flooding has reached the bottom tier of my house, it’s about chest height. I’ve got brown waves going through the house – I’ve got snakes in the house. My cars are locked in the garage, I can’t get them out – they’re floating around, and banging in the garage.

We’re still expecting the waters to rise. Personally I’m fine; I’ve got a supply of fresh water, I’ve got my camping equipment and my camping stove. I want to stay to see what damage has been done to my own home. I’ve got my own dinghy so I’m quite safe.

I live about 200m from the river, so I do live in a flood-prone area. This is a big city, Brisbane – Australia’s third largest, and the city centre from what I last saw on TV looked like a ghost town. There were no buses, no ferries and they were talking about smashing up the river walkways.

Right now I’m looking at a car floating past my house; I can see fridges, furniture, sofas – there’s even been a report of a shark sighted.

It was a bull shark and it was spotted in a local suburban street. We do have sharks in the Brisbane River; they have obviously come over the flood barriers and come looking for food.”

 What’s causing it?

La Niña is having a disruptive impact on the eastern coast of Australia and parts of South East Asia.

The recent flooding in Queensland and the Philippines has been caused by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the western Pacific associated with a La Niña weather episode.

BBC Meteorologist, Laura Tobin, says the flooding in the south east of Brazil is unlikely to be linked to La Niña. She says La Niña is a cyclical weather phenomenon which effects mostly Pacific equatorial regions.

La Niña occurs when surface temperatures are cooler than normal in the eastern Pacific and warmer than normal in the western Pacific.

During La Niña, the cold water that pools near the coast of South America surges across the Pacific due to strengthening easterly winds. This causes a greater build up of warmer water along the eastern coast of Australia and in the South East Asia region.

The contrast in sea surface temperatures across the Pacific, as well as the contrast in air pressure, produces more rainfall in the western Pacific region.

Heavy rainfall in Sri Lanka

It is not typical that La Niña would effect the weather so far west. However BBC Meteorologist, Nina Ridge, says there is also some evidence La Niña may have had an effect on the recent rainfall in Sri Lanka.

This is because La Niña causes strong easterly winds, that could prevail across to Sri Lanka and interact with the normal north east monsoon.

Widespread impact

The World Meteorological Organization says La Niña conditions can have a widespread impact, usually associated with stronger monsoons in most parts of Asia and Australia.

The weather phenomenon has also been associated with an active hurricane season in the Atlantic.

One Response to “Queensland rebuilding ‘huge task’”

  1. Lindy said

    Well done!
    How does it appear they are managing? Make a note of a couple of examples maybe of how they are doing?

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