Jan 13 2011
The task of rebuilding communities in Queensland submerged by floodwaters would reach that of “post-war proportions”, the state’s premier warned today, as the Brisbane river continued to surge through the city, and the death toll rose to 15, with around 60 still missing.
The Queensland premier, Anna Bligh, referred to the flood crisis in Australia as the worst natural disaster the state had experienced and warned that clean-up and rebuilding costs could reach an estimated A$5bn (£3.1bn).
“Queensland is reeling this morning from the worst natural disaster in our history and possibly in the history of our nation,” she said. “We’ve seen three-quarters of our state having experienced the devastation of raging floodwaters and we now face a reconstruction task of postwar proportions.”
The body of a 24-year-old man who died after being sucked into a drain in Durack, was found in Brisbane this morning, and police said a man’s body had been found in Myall Creek, which runs through the town of Dalby.
Authorities continue to search for bodies in Grantham and Withcott, two small towns in the Lockyer valley that were among the communities hit by a devastating flash flood earlier in the week.
The state was mired in anxiety overnight, with forecasters predicting the Brisbane river would reach a peak of 5.5m at 5am local time. In the end, the water level reached a depth of 4.46m, slightly lower than predicted and below the 5.45m reached in the 1974 flood.
However, despite the measurements, 11,900 homes and 2,500 businesses have been completely inundated with water, and another 14,700 houses and 2,500 businesses at least partially covered, according to the mayor, Campbell Newman. Almost 115,000 homes remained without electricity because of the dangers of electrocution and more than 4,000 people spent the night in evacuation centres.
As the muddy floodwaters surged through the city, residents spoke of the smells rising up from the dank waters, as sewage began spilling into the river. Boats torn from their moorings were sent down the raging torrent, which also took with it a 300-tonne pedestrian boardwalk that moved rapidly downstream before two tug boats were able to steer it away from bridges. An entire waterfront cafe was lost to the water.
With roads cut off, power down and rail lines closed, those who wanted to travel or help neighbours moved through the waters in kayaks or small rowing boats. Masses of vegetables, fruit and sugarcane crops have been lost; prices across Australia are due to rise sharply as a consequence.
Bligh was visibly distressed during a news conference as she told residents they would get through this crisis. “As we weep for what we lost and grieve for family and friends and confront the challenge that is before us, I want us to remember who we are,” she said.
“We are Queenslanders. We’re the people that they breed tough north of the [NSW] border. We’re the ones that they knock down and we get up again. This weather may break our hearts but it will not break our will.”
- Flooded Australian City a ‘War Scene’ (foxnews.com)