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11 January 2011 @ 11:33 pm
Queensland floods  
It's been raining in Queensland for about two months. For thirteen years there was barely a drop, but over the last two, there have been repeated floods. This year's are the worst. The ground is sodden and the creeks and rivers have all overflowed. An area the size of France and Germany combined has been submerged for most of the Christmas/New Year period, and people have been swept away as the water crept slowly through the state, isolating farms and country towns and cutting major highways.

Yesterday the water stopped creeping. Instead a wave that has been described as an inland tsunami barreled through Toowoomba and neighbouring areas, sweeping all before it, including houses that were lifted off their stumps and smashed against the next building, or in some cases their own back fences. Cars were stacked in piles against walls, and giant water tanks and shipping containers went bobbing down the street.

You can see the force of the flood in this video, which shows a local creek rising and rising. Only two people died in Toowoomba, which is nothing short of amazing, but so far another eight are confirmed dead in neighbouring towns, and 78 are missing.

All that water is moving down the river system now, some of it to New South Wales, where at least everyone has had warning and a chance to evacuate. There will be property damage again, but it should be mostly fine.

The rest of the water is headed to Brisbane, Caboolture and Ipswich. Brisbane is the capital of Queensland, similar in terms of importance (if not culture) to Liverpool or Chicago. At least 6500 properties will go underwater, even if there's no more rain. At the moment they are projecting it will be more like 9000. There has been a day's warning, and the people in the region have spent it packing -- some have been packing for complete strangers, helping them to load up belongings and save what they can. Toowoomba has warned people, and they are evacuating early, though so many roads are cut, many can only go to safe public areas rather than family in other towns.

The last major floods in Brisbane were in 1974. In response the Wivenhoe Dam was built to hold back the water so it could never happen again. The dam is full now, and it can't hold the water back any longer. They are having to make controlled releases so the dam continues to stop a catastrophe. But it can no longer protect the city from a flood. The best advice says that it will be worse than 1974.

In Ipswich, it is expected to reach 22 metres (24 yards), and the power is being cut off in an hour there. In Condamine, which has only just dried out from December, the water is coming back and 42 of the 60 homes there are expected to go underwater. Again.

They're being typically Australian about it all. In Toowoomba a woman told of throwing one her her daughters from her flooding shop to a man on the street while she swam out with the older girl. Another man, whose home was collapsing beneath him as he climbed onto the rood said that he just jumped onto the neighbour's roof, which was better. As people do, they have saved each other where they can, and acts of great heroism are being shrugged off as nothing.

If you are in the area, or have friends and family there, the ABC has an interactive map showing road closures, water contamination, power cutoffs and other hazards. If you're fine and have power, take a moment to update it when you can. Thanks rdmasters  for the heads-up on that one.

If you have spare cash, the ABC has a list of donation points, or there is the Australian Red Cross, who are already in and helping. These are mostly poor areas, people who cannot afford a home in a higher town, or farmers who were hoping for a good crop after years of mostly disastrous ones.

Our friends and Mr B's family in the region continue fine, so far. They're more likely to be inconvenienced by contaminated water or power cuts than at risk from the floods given where they are.  remuslives23  hasn't checked in for a few days, I suspect (and hope) this may be because she is out doing something useful as she is in the middle of the region.

Keep safe, you Queenslanders.
AutumnHearti_autumnheart on January 11th, 2011 12:43 pm (UTC)
A nice summary - much less repeatative than the TV news. It seems to have stopped raining in most part of the city early this evening - I can see stars! - so there's hope that it may be a little less bad than predicted.
quatrefoilquatrefoil on January 11th, 2011 12:49 pm (UTC)
I have been thinking of you and hoping you're ok - please stay safe. I'm sending you dry thoughts.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 11th, 2011 12:50 pm (UTC)
Some dry would be lovely! I have to say, I never understand Australians who easily believe in a benevolent god. Looking around this country, I would be inclined to suspect a complete bastard if I were a religious type. That dam was at record lows about a year ago. Now it's headed for 200%. Madness!
AutumnHearti_autumnheart on January 11th, 2011 02:08 pm (UTC)
I'm hanging out for sunight, personally, but anything that lets the emergency crews see where they're going will do.
quatrefoilquatrefoil on January 11th, 2011 12:54 pm (UTC)
It's really shocking, but also heartwarming to see how people have pitched in to help - not surprising, and I still remember the chap who came out of nowhere to clean my gutters in the Canberra bushfires. It's a pretty useful national characteristic.

I was so impressed with the older lady who was interviewed leaving her inundated house, who said "Don't worry about us, it's neither here nor there - we're safe and there are people who are much worse off out there.'

And the other lady who managed to crack a smile, despite having lost everything, as she described a huge concrete tank taking out the pub, and saying the worst thing was that there was no cold beer.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 11th, 2011 12:57 pm (UTC)
Yes, they were classic Australians! The second one's friend was a bit harrowing, though. How awful to have to go past people because you don't have enough boat engine fuel to save them.
Shivshiv5468 on January 11th, 2011 12:55 pm (UTC)
It's dreadful. But I'm full of admiration at their phlegmatic response.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 11th, 2011 12:59 pm (UTC)
It takes a lot to make Australians panic, they're raised with deadly everything. Queenslanders even have crocodiles. You will not be surprised that the crocodiles and most-toxic-snakes-in-the-world are all swimming through the floodwaters merrily.
ecosopherecosopher on January 11th, 2011 12:58 pm (UTC)
I'm just in horrified awe at it, every time I see a picture or catch something on the news.

Agree about people being typically Australian about it; I watch them being interviewed and their stoicism and understatedness bring a wry smile to my face.

Wish we could just do a bit of a swap with the weather... we've had a nasty little bushfire over here and could do with a good soak.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 11th, 2011 01:02 pm (UTC)
I saw that. Madness! And that it was purposefully lit is just hideous. I do wish it were possible to send some of the flood where it could do some good.
Susanlil_shepherd on January 11th, 2011 01:15 pm (UTC)
The pictures are horrifying. It's one of the lead stories here in Britain, and we are all impressed by the way everyone in Queensland is handling this.

I was relived when the only person on my flist who I knew was in that area reported in this morning (or this evening in her terms.) Most of my non-internet friends are in Melbourne, which lessens the worry.
Ann: Feed Your Headtsosh on January 11th, 2011 01:33 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the report. I've been cut off from the news lately and haven't heard about it. Wow. That's terrifying! I'm glad you, your friends, and the family are OK.

With all the craziness lately, drought, fires, floods, snowstorms, dead birds falling from the sky... the Maya's 2012 prediction starts to look more and more possible.
remuslives23remuslives23 on January 11th, 2011 01:37 pm (UTC)
I'm doing my bit for the local economy (it's back to school time!). It's still a mess locally, but cash donations are the best form of assistance until the river recedes and we can get in and see what damage has been done. My sister is still homeless and looks to be for another week or so. The government grants are kicking in, though, so that will go some way to helping displaced families.

I've rellies who are flooded in further south as well as my parents who are close to some houses that are coming crashing off the mountainside on the Sunshine Coast. They also live in the area and are on a steep incline so we're hoping their drainage holds up under the torrent of rain they're getting.

Daughter has been on the phone to her friend in Toowoomba who, thank God, is not in the part hit worst. It's all so bloody awful.
jigglykat: 30 ROCK: OH MY GODjigglykat on January 11th, 2011 02:50 pm (UTC)
I saw the video with the parked cars washing away and then the aftermath where they're all on top of each other. So terrifying!
Wenchilada: The Screamwenchilada on January 11th, 2011 03:08 pm (UTC)
My ayi came in this morning and was very concerned that my family were in the effected areas (mercifully, they are not). She is from Sichuan, bless her. I have to say, watching this all from a distance on CNN, that there really is nothing quite like the Australian spirit, which we don't get a good feel for (like the no beer lady that Ms Q mentions). I miss that because when you do see it, you know that generally, people are going to be ok despite the heartbreaking devastation. It's late, I'm probably not making much sense here...
Coffeejunkii: olivia: contemplationcoffeejunkii on January 11th, 2011 03:10 pm (UTC)
this is so crazy. i can't wrap my head around it :(
Leelaleela_cat on January 11th, 2011 03:50 pm (UTC)
I'd offer to send you some dry weather, but it's clearly about to rain here, too -- just not in biblical proportions.

We'll see what we can do after my next paycheque to donate some money to help. Thanks for the links.
this mundane stuff called lifewinnett on January 11th, 2011 03:52 pm (UTC)
OMG. Wow! My prayers go out to everyone over there. Thanks for the update. I always appreciate your posts like this.
Blytheblythely on January 11th, 2011 07:56 pm (UTC)
Thanks for posting this - it makes more impact than the rather random Euro-reporting. Inland tsunami????
Nennenenne on January 11th, 2011 08:14 pm (UTC)
I've read about it in the papers, but I didn't know it was this bad. The video was downright scary!
Jaeenchanted_jae on January 11th, 2011 08:25 pm (UTC)
This is so awful. What was it, two years ago that Australia was ravaged by fire? Unbelievable. I can't thank you, and others on my flist, enough for posting about it. It brings it home to me in a way that impersonal news accounts never can. I hope and pray that you and yours stay safe. Please keep us updated.
mayela_delarue: Gaspmayela_delarue on January 11th, 2011 09:08 pm (UTC)
I saw this map this morning, and though most of your flist is in Europe, I thought it might help anyone trying to fathom the size and reach of the flood waters: http://yfrog.com/h7864hmj
Brissygirlbrissygirl on January 11th, 2011 10:15 pm (UTC)
I've been lucky so far. The sun is shining this morning, and I have to go house hunting hoping I can get around to where I need to.

People in Caboolture were being told to head to the evac. centre in Strathpine. The Brisbane CBD is flooded, the train lines are cut.
It's a Deensedeensey on January 12th, 2011 12:34 am (UTC)
This map anthraxia did is excellent

naiadi_naiad on January 12th, 2011 01:26 am (UTC)
Sadly, I still think that light blue outline is too small. The southern line should essentially be along the border to capture the Condamine-Balonne catchment. And if we were to take NSW into account now, it should cross the border and take in the NSW north coast.
AutumnHearti_autumnheart on January 12th, 2011 07:21 am (UTC)
This set of corrections is my guess. Once it all starts to move down the Darling river, though, western NSW, Northern Victoria and Eastern SA will likely get floods as well.

naiadi_naiad on January 12th, 2011 10:56 am (UTC)
That looks more it, definitely.
Kieranfilmatleven on January 12th, 2011 09:28 am (UTC)
Bothers me so much that I'm so short on monies that I can't even donate right now. I wanted to cry when I heard about Toowoomba. I've been following it all, but that just was kind of my breaking point. I'm trying to sell some stuff on ebay though, and anything I can make I plan to donate. =)