View Full Version : Merry: flood news?

December 31st, 2010, 09:21 AM
Yes, Australia is a huge land mass, but still: a flood "covering an area larger than France and Germany combined"?

Perhaps Merry could give us her impressions? Of the disaster, the response etc?

I think the forum would appreciate it.


December 31st, 2010, 08:42 PM
As you say, Australia is a large continent. I live on the opposite side in the south, so I guess I feel as isolated from the Queensland floods as you do in Italy. Likewise for the recent blizzard in New York. I can only go by what's reported in the news.

Apart from a very severe freak 10-minute hail storm back in March 2010, Perth rarely experiences the extremes in weather endured by the Eastern States, particularly in recent years. Since I moved here in 1975, there have only been two other occasions where the weather has been really bad IMO, one being back in the late '70s caused by a cyclone travelling from the north far enough south to affect Perth.

If you live in northern Australia, cyclones in Summer are a fact of life, but they don't usually cause as much devastation as Cyclone Tasha (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropical_Cyclone_Tasha_%282010%29) in Queensland now, or Cyclone Tracy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclone_Tracy) in Darwin in 1974.

It's a long way from being over yet for residents in Queensland, unfortunately. It will also have a significant effect on the State's economy. A$1m from the PM is pathetic (http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/features/julia-gillard-urged-to-contribute-more-than-1-million-to-queensland-flood-relief/story-e6freorf-1225979668462).


December 31st, 2010, 09:23 PM
^ One million? You can light your cigar with that.

January 11th, 2011, 07:25 AM
Deadly wave heads for Brisbane

Jamie Walker and Michael McKenna

Water lies outside the State Library after the Brisbane River burst it banks.

A map of the South Queensland area that remains under threat from heavy rains and flash flooding. Picture: Google

THE nation confronts its worst flood disaster in living memory, with 30 people believed dead and 78 missing in southeast Queensland.

The wall of water bearing down on Brisbane threatens to engulf thousands of homes and put more people at risk.

The official death toll from the flash flooding that ripped through Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley yesterday stands at 10, with half the victims children, but Julia Gillard warned that this was bound to increase.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said the number of suspected deaths was twice or more the confirmed toll. A senior emergency official told The Australian more than 30 people had died, including nine whose bodies had been located but not yet recovered.

As the focal point of the crisis shifted to Brisbane, the State Emergency Service reported tonight that a three-year-old boy had drowned in floodwaters in the Ipswich region on the capital's western fringe.

Rescuers saved his mother but were unable to reach the toddler before he was torn from her arms by the raging torrent.

The young woman's car had been caught in the overflow of the swollen Bremer River at Minden, on Ipswich's outskirts, after she fled her flood-bound home.

Tonight, Black Hawk army helicopters competed the evacuation of the town of Forest Hill, 67km west of Brisbane, after it was menaced by swiftly rising waters.

Its entire population of more than 300 was airlifted to nearby Gatton.

The once-picturesque hamlet of Grantham, which took the brunt of the tsunami-like torrent that poured down the Great Dividing Range from Toowoomba, was a scene of epic destruction.

Police believe bodies are buried beneath the layer of silt the flood left behind.

Les Schultz, a former resident of the Lockyer Valley town, told of screams coming from inside one house smashed off its foundations and hurtled along in the deadly torrent.

Quoting a friend, who witnessed the scene, he said: "This home just floated past his house with people yelling out for help. But no one could help them."

Nearby Murphys Creek was still too dangerous for emergency crews to enter today, and police Deputy Commissioner Ian Stewart said there was no way of knowing how many people had died there. "We have had to hold back our staff," he said. "The creek is still flooding in that area. It is very high-risk for our people."

Ms Bligh said "grave concern" was held for 15 of the 78 people posted as missing tonight. "With so many outstanding and unaccounted for, we still face some very grim news," she warned.

As torrential rain continued to pelt down, the Premier said flooding in Brisbane would be worse than the 1974 disaster that killed 14 people and devastated much of the city. More than 9000 properties were set to be inundated, and another 30,000 will be hit to some degree by the intensifying flooding. This represents about 10 per cent of the 400,000 buildings and homes in Brisbane.

To the north of Brisbane, residents of low-lying areas of urban Caboolture and Strathpine were ordered by police to evacuate today. The major growth city of Ipswich has also been warned of a flood threat as waters continue to gush along the Bremer River and Lockyer Creek.

Major roads remain cut, including the national highway - the Bruce Highway - at Caboolture, north of Brisbane, south of Gympie and south of Rockhampton, where 160 homes remain surrounded by floodwaters.

Chinchilla, Dalby and Condamine on the Darling Downs also faced flooding.
Ms Bligh pledged to give regular briefings and steer the state through the crisis: "It might be breaking our hearts at the moment: it won't break our will."

Ms Bligh said people living on "high ground" should reach out and offer shelter to those in low-lying areas.

"We are facing one of our toughest tests," she said. "We will only pass this test if we are calm, patient with each other . . . now is not a time to panic."

Overnight, the Brisbane River was set to rise to 3m. With a big high tide backing up floodwaters, it would reach 4.5m by 3pm tomorrow, before topping the devastating 1974 mark of 5.45m on Thursday.

Lord Mayor Campbell Newman said the crisis had overwhelmed the ability of emergency services to preserve homes with sandbagging or other flood barriers.

Mr Newman revealed that Wivenhoe Dam, built to flood-proof Brisbane after the last flood disaster, was now so full it could no longer protect the city.

"The dam is full," the Lord Mayor said.

"Every bit of rain that falls on the catchment will get to Brisbane, and there is not much more we can do about that."

A volume of water equivalent to two Sydney Harbours is pouring over the vast dam's spillway into the river every 24 hours. Mr Newman said if it continued to rain, "who knows what happens on Friday".

The Prime Minister was tonight preparing to fly to Brisbane to be on hand as the emergency peaked. Expressing her deep sadness over the loss of life so far, Ms Gillard said the nation should "brace itself" for more bad news.

"This is a very grim situation and Queensland is going to need us to stand shoulder to shoulder with Queenslanders over months and months and months of recovery," she told the Seven Network.

The declaration yesterday of a state of emergency covering Brisbane means police can order people out of their homes in forced evacuations.

As the Brisbane River broke its banks and submerged low-lying parts of the CBD, nearby West End and leafy suburbs such as New Farm, in the inner north, Milton and Sherwood in the inner west went under water during this afternoon's high tide. At the same time, homes were being evacuated in the outer suburban precincts of Strathpine and Caboolture, north of the city, stretching emergency services.

A third of Ipswich, 30km southwest of the Brisbane CBD, was expected to be flooded by the Bremer River before it peaked at 22m tomorrow, eclipsing the 1974 flood level.
Mr Newman said the imperative was to protect lives in what he branded a "national disaster".

Ms Bligh said people should not baulk if police or emergency personnel asked them to leave threatened homes.


January 11th, 2011, 07:55 AM
Brisbane Areas Told to Evacuate as River Swells


SYDNEY, Australia — Australian officials urged thousands of people to flee to higher ground on Tuesday in Australia’s third-largest city, Brisbane, as floodwaters that killed at least 10 people rushed toward the coastal capital of 2 million people.

Cars jammed the streets in Brisbane’s low-lying central business district, with residents scrambling to secure their possessions and move to safe areas as the swollen Brisbane River began bursting its banks.

The city’s mayor, Campbell Newman, warned that at least 6,500 homes could be flooded by Thursday, when the river is expected to peak at about 20 feet above its usual level, the biggest flood in 35 years.

“We are facing one of our toughest ever tests,” Anna Bligh, the Queensland premier, told reporters in Brisbane. “We do have a very serious natural disaster on our doorstep and we will all have to work together.”

Five children were among the 10 killed late Monday as the deluge tore through Toowoomba and other parts of the Lockyer Valley, west of Brisbane, upending cars and ripping buildings from their foundations.

Some 78 people were still missing late Tuesday, and police warned that they had “very grave fears” for 18 of those missing. At least 20 people have been killed in the floodwaters that have swept vast areas of Australia’s northeastern Queensland state.

Emergency crews worked frantically to rescue hundreds of people left stranded by the raging floodwaters — described by some locals as an “inland tsunami” — that Toowoomba and several smaller towns.

Around 300 people were plucked from the disaster zone by helicopter on Tuesday after the tiny hamlet of Forest Hill was cut off by the torrent, Ms. Bligh said. Some 78 people were still missing late Tuesday, and Queensland police warned that the death toll was likely to rise as emergency crews continued to sift through the wreckage.

“The circumstances in Queensland continue to be very dire indeed,” Prime Minister Julia Gillard told reporters in Canberra. “The nation does need to brace itself for the fact that the death toll as a result of yesterday’s flash flooding is likely to rise.”

Torrential rains and flooding has affected parts of waterlogged Queensland since late December. Officials at Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology have warned that the region’s soil has lost its capacity to absorb more water after more than two weeks of severely wet weather that has flooded an area roughly equal to France and Germany.

After enduring a decade of one of the worst droughts in Australian history, Queensland residents are now facing billions of dollars in costs from the floods, which began in late November and have since razed hundreds of homes and businesses, and brought the region’s lucrative coal and farming industries to a virtual standstill.

Brisbane’s main reservoir, which was created to protect the city from flooding after the last devastating flood in 1974, was overflowing, adding thousands of gallons to the region’s swollen river systems, according to Mr. Newman.

“The situation has obviously demonstrably deteriorated,” Mr. Newman told a meeting of disaster management officials in Brisbane, according to local news reports. “Today is very significant, tomorrow is bad, and Thursday is going to be devastating for the residents and businesses affected.”


January 12th, 2011, 12:00 AM
Slideshow (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/gallery/2011/01/03/GA2011010301306.html#photo=1)of the devastation in the Washington Post.

January 12th, 2011, 06:18 AM
Queensland floods force businesses to shut shop

Geoff Easdown

A restaurant sinks slowly into the Brisbane River. Picture: Marc Robertson Source: Herald Sun

THOUSANDS of businesses have shut their doors across Queensland as losses from the worst floods in 100 years rise as fast as the state's swollen rivers.

Last night it was estimated that 3500 businesses were either closed or planning to shut their doors.

Queensland Treasurer Andrew Fisher says the damages bill will run to billions of dollars. "The bill is going to start with a 'B' and not an 'M'," Mr Fisher said yesterday.

Reserve Bank board member Warwick McKibbon said the disaster could cut economic growth by as much as 1 per cent or $13 billion over the next year.

Queensland produces about 80 per cent of Australia's coal exports, accounting for around a fifth of the nation's earnings.

Analysts say the next big flood test will come within 24 hours when the heavily swollen Brisbane River reaches an expected flood peak of 5.5m.

Yesterday large parts of the CBD were deserted and 70,000 shops, businesses and homes were without electricity.

All commerce and shipping through the Port of Brisbane has stopped and 107 roads have been closed across the wider metropolitan area.

Coal mines, the state's biggest source of revenue, have been inundated and are either closed or operating below normal capacity.

Last night 132 coal ships lay at anchor in a 32km line off the ports of Mackay and Gladstone.

GFT Forex currency researcher Kathy Lien said that once the economy snaps back from "the catastrophe it will come back strongly". "For the time being, the Reserve Bank will not be able to raise interest rates," she said.

But it will be weeks before the full extent of the private, commercial and government losses can be calculated.

Crane hire and operator Boom Logistics had closed two of its Queensland sites, Virgin Blue evacuated its headquarters in Brisbane and paint manufacturer DuluxGroup closed its plant at Rocklea.

Rail operators Pacific National and Asciano admitted their coal revenues will be affected.
All rail lines to Gladstone remain cut and the number of freight trains supplying Port Dalrymple at Mackay has been trimmed, delaying $27 million in shipments.

The state's main North Coast rail line, linking Brisbane and Cairns, is also closed.

Shares in the Reject Shop were suspended after its distribution centre at Ipswich flooded, while Linfox has 150 trucks stranded.

JB Hi-Fi has shut 12 of its 32 Queensland stores, while Leighton has stopped work on the $4.1 billion Airport Link.

Rivals Coles and Woolworths have joined forces to supply damaged supermarkets.

Coal and cotton are also tipped to reach near-record prices due to shortages.

The affect on beef exports, another of the state's major industry, has been limited and actual stock losses will not be known until mustering starts once the waters recede.


January 12th, 2011, 06:27 AM
Floods engulf Queensland economy

Neil Wilson, AAP

DISASTER: Machinery stranded in the floodwaters at Cockatoo Coal's Baralaba mine west of Rockhampton.
Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen Source: The Courier-Mail

THE Reject Shop is just one of thousands of Queensland businesses to have been directly hit by floods after its Ipswich distribution centre was flooded.

It suspended trading in its shares as another 3500 businesses in Brisbane are expected to be flooded, with the CBD cleared yesterday and few offices operating.

Energex clarified late today that power had been cut to 127,000 customers across southern Queensland, including Brisbane suburbs and CBD. The water's peak ccoveerd transformers and caused lines to come down but also much of the system had to be switched off for safety reasons.

The halt to Brisbane-based economic activity will escalate the economic disruption - to rural industry, the mining industry and tourism - which some economists fear could strip up to one per cent from GDP.

The disruption of exports including coal and cotton caused the Australian dollar to fall to $98.32c in early trade today.

But it is still too early for most industries to quantify the impact, with price rises for food and the clean-up likely to effect the economy for many months.

As some economists' predictions on the damage and clean up doubled to $13 billion, PM Julia Gillard has so far ruled out increasing the budget deficit to help Queensland re-build, preferring a strategy which would cut other areas.

Queensland Treasurer Andrew Fraser said it was not possible to quantify the cost "other than to say the damage bill is going to start with a "b" and not an "m"".

"So we are talking here of billions in terms of budget impact," he told told ABC Television today.

Mr Fraser said there were arrangements in place with the federal government to share the cost of the recovery.

Severe distruption to the economy of the nation's third biggest city as been highlighted by the closure of Dulux's main paint manufacturing plant at Rocklea in the Brisbane's south.

"At this stage, it is too early to say what, if any, impact this may have on ongoing operations,'' the paint-maker said in a statement.

"DuluxGroup has a number of mitigation strategies, including alternative manufacturing sources and using existing stock levels.''

Crane hire and operator Boom Logistics has shut down two of its Queensland sites and evacuated staff, with the weather already having hit south-east Queensland's construction industry.

Linfox yesterday had 150 trucks stranded after making deliveries to supermarkets.

Coles and Woolworths have combined to supply supermarkets in affected areas with fresh food, using supplies from as far away as Adelaide to stock flood-affected areas in southern Queensland.

The Australian tax Office today notified flood-affected businesses they will have a period of grace for their December business activity statements, not required until February 21.

Shares in The Reject Shop were supended at a trade of $13.08 after flooding of the distribution centre which supplies nearly 90 of its 211 stores nationally.

The travel and tourism industry is also likely to take a hit.

Wotif.com Holdings, which handles last minute accommodation bookings, sank 13 cents, or 2.89 per cent, to $4.37, and airline booking agency Flight Centre lost 18 cents, or 0.73 per cent, to $24.40.

Queensland coal producers have again declined, with Macarthur Coal down 12 cents at $13.43, and New Hope Corporation lost three cents to $4.89.

Asciano today clarified the difficulties in moving coal in Queesland and northern NSW, with lines remaining open hit by speed restrictions..

"The Blackwater coal system remains closed and the Goonyella coal system continues to operate well below capacity,'' Asciano said in a statement.

As well, NSW coal haulage volumes were being affected by the weather, congested rail netwrok and restricted availability of coal.

Asciano said bad weather in the Gunnedah Basin and Ulan network would likely reduce average haul length trains.

"Consequently, the forecasted growth in revenue for the Pacific National coal division will be impacted.''

All rail lines to Gladstone remain cut and the number of freight trains supplying Port Dalrymple has been cut from 28 to 22 - losses of $27 million daily in cargo value.There are more than 100 bulk carriers waiting to be loaded off the Queensland coast, with the turn-around time now extending to 22 days.

Both coal and cotton are tipped to reach near-record prices.

Overnight prices for cotton rose 2.8 per cent, the maximum allowable on world market moderated by ICE Futures in the US, to $147.25. It is the highest price since December in a market where prices have been booming for 12 months and threatenig to top the 1995 record.

The Australian Cotton Shippers Association expects at least 400,000 bales to be lost, but this is from a record forecast of 4 billion bales pre-flooding.

Coking coal prices - vital to world steel production - are already at a spot price of $280 after last year's contract price of $225. They are being tipped to climb well above $300 due to the flood impact, according to analysts.

Prices for fruit and vegetables have already spiked as result of floods from last week, but industry group
GrowCom expects summer producers in the southern states will be able to fill much of the supply which comes out of Queensland.

GrowCom CEO Alex Ferguson does not expect a shortage on southern grocery shelves, predicting southern state producers may move to speed their production to take advantage of higher prices.

He said the extent of the impact on growers in southern Queensland will depend on whether they are able to recover fast enough to get into field for planting in March and April.
Disruption to Queensland's beef exports industry has been limited so far, as most processing plants are closed at this time of the year.

Meat and Livestock Corporation economist Tim McGrae said the potential for losses may come in following months, depending on the extent of famage to transport infrastructure.

There were no reports so far of significant stock losses but that would become clearer in coming weeks, as farmers tried to muster and move cattle.
The domestic market should be adequately served by other states, he said.


January 12th, 2011, 08:49 PM
With Brisbane Underwater, Is the Worst Still to Come?

By Marina Kamenev

The Brisbane River is usually a placid body of water that flows through Australia's third largest city and expels into Moreton Bay without incident. But on Wednesday, Brisbane was swamped. Weeks of heavy rainfall, combined with discharge from a swollen dam, transformed the river into a raging torrent, forcing thousands to evacuate their homes in the worst flooding the region has seen in 36 years. By the afternoon, the surge was racing toward the bay, dragging boats and sections of jetties with it. It tore a floating walkway from the edge of the riverbank in the trendy central neighborhood of New Farm, and along the river, a boat was seen crashing into a bridge's pier. Drift Café, an iconic riverside restaurant, all but sank. (See pictures of the flooding in Australia.) (http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,2040634,00.html)

Nevertheless, Brisbane's residents were calm when the river peaked at just over 14 ft. (4.3 m). "It's not as bad as it was in '74," says Alan Woodrow, a local resident. "Then we were completely caught off-guard." He adds, "Now we know what's coming," referring to the numerous forecasts from earlier this week predicting that the water will reach 17 ft. (5.2 m) by Thursday morning — slightly below the 17.9-ft. (5.45 m) mark achieved by the infamous floods of 1974.

City dwellers lining the safe parts of the river seemed more curious than concerned. Many took in the view from higher ground, photographing the water as it submerged cafés, parks, ferry terminals, stop signs and phone booths. Suncorp Stadium, which seats 52,500, resembled an oversize puddle: murky liquid crept 10 rows up, drowning the best seats in the venue. Downtown, Margaret Street filled up with water by the evening, and surrounding traffic lights were turned off.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh was quick to warn residents that the flood should be taken seriously. "This incident is not a tourist event — this is a deeply serious natural disaster," she told reporters on Wednesday. "Stay in your homes. Do not travel unless it is absolutely necessary." (See "Australia Floods: From Bad to Worse.") (http://ecocentric.blogs.time.com/2011/01/11/australia-floods-overnight-from-bad-to-worse/)

The warnings came a day after 12 people died in flash floods in the Toowoomba-Lockyer Valley, west of Brisbane, bringing the total death toll to 22, since the floods began three weeks ago. Forty-three people are still missing; Wednesday's break from the downpour will likely help authorities spot more bodies. One of the missing is James Perry, the former chief steward of harness racing in New South Wales, who was last pictured with his family clinging to the roof of their car in the nearby town of Grantham. Perry's wife and son have been rescued, but his whereabouts are unknown.

Martin Warburton, a Grantham resident, told Australia's Seven network about the gruesome events he witnessed: "You saw arms, hands, gray hair, and that was it. By the time you knelt down, you realize they're not swimming; they are already gone." Warburton spent Tuesday night on a roof, awaiting rescue. Authorities, anticipating more bodies to move downstream in the coming days, have set up at least one temporary morgue in the Brisbane region.

For survivors, the water that has inundated southeastern Queensland could still have serious repercussions. Queensland's Department of Health has warned that the floods may increase the risk of disease, including leptospirosis, melioidosis, dengue fever and diarrheal diseases. It has advised residents against walking through, swimming in and, more obviously, drinking from floodwaters. Those returning home for the cleanup have been told to wear gloves while cleaning, and to disinfect surfaces and wear insect repellent.

But for many, a homecoming is still far away. Across the state, 3,585 people have been forced to evacuate and stay in temporary shelters, and in Brisbane, the worst flooding is yet to come. Chinchilla, a town northeast of Brisbane that was flooded 10 days ago, could be re-evacuated on Wednesday night as floodwaters there are expected to reach over 25 ft. (7.8 m). (See "Brisbane Braces for More Floods, More Deaths.") (http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2041951,00.html)

In Brisbane, the RNA, one of several evacuation centers in the city, gradually filled up on Wednesday afternoon. "We have around 350 people here now, and that's expected to rise to 1,000 tonight," says Kate Brady, the center's manager. As the city prepared for the flooding of 20,000 homes, inflatable mattresses were carried to accommodate those who were likely to spend the next few days at the showground. A makeshift crèche was filled with noisy children and toys, while a mother changed a diaper on an adjoining table.
Anouska Marius, who moved to Brisbane a month ago from western Australia, arrived at the center in the late afternoon. "There were seven of us in the one-bedroom place," she says, sitting with a suitcase and a pile of stuffed toys. "It had flooded in '74, and I didn't want to take the risk." Marius' sister, a nephew and his girlfriend decided to stay put. "I think they were worried about the television, which is absolutely ridiculous," she says.
Marius is quick to admit that her story isn't the most dramatic tale of the evening. Many sitting quietly at surrounding tables are not willing to talk. An elderly woman approached by TIME firmly declined to tell her story. "I've got nothing to say," she says. "I'm just sitting here until my home dries up."


January 12th, 2011, 09:24 PM
Australia Floods: Brisbane Suffers As Water Arrives

John Pye


BRISBANE, Australia — Officials say a man has been killed by floodwaters that have inundated parts of Australia's third-largest city.

Queensland state Premier Anna Bligh says the 24-year-old man was killed in Brisbane on Thursday, the first to die in the city. That brings to 24 the total number of people killed since driving rain and floods began in Queensland in late November.

The Brisbane River reached its crest early Thursday, swamping thousands of homes and businesses with water.

Bligh says the clean-up effort will reach "postwar proportions."

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) – Residents of Australia's third-largest city woke Thursday to find their community submerged after muddy floodwaters pouring through streets reached their crest, with Queensland's premier warning the task of rebuilding would reach "postwar proportions."

Thousands of homes were filled with water, and many areas were without electricity. Officials told displaced residents it will be days before many of them can return to their houses; others were told their homes will never be habitable again.

In one spot of bright news, the swollen Brisbane River's peak was about three feet (one meter) lower than predicted, at a depth slightly below that of 1974 floods that swept the city.
Still, waters in some areas had reached the tops of roofs, shut down roads and power and devastated entire neighborhoods. Mayor Campbell Newman said 11,900 homes and 2,500 businesses had been completely inundated, with another 14,700 houses and 2,500 businesses at least partially covered in water.

"Queensland is reeling this morning from the worst natural disaster in our history and possibly in the history of our nation," state Premier Anna Bligh told reporters. "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 flooding, which has killed 23 people since late November, has submerged dozens of towns – some three times – and left an area the size of Germany and France combined under water. Highways and rail lines have been washed away in the disaster, which is shaping up to be Australia's costliest ever.

At least 74 people are missing, and the death toll is expected to rise. Many of those unaccounted for disappeared from around Toowoomba, a city west of Brisbane that saw massive flash floods sweep away cars, road signs and people. Thirteen died in that flood alone, with police finding the latest body in a field on Thursday. Deputy Police Commissioner Ian Stewart warned that number was likely to rise as search and rescue teams accessed more devastated areas.

"We've got to brace ourselves for more bad news," Stewart said.

In Brisbane, roads were flooded, railway lines were cut and sewage began spilling into the floodwaters. People moved about in kayaks, rowboats and even on surfboards. Boats torn from their moorings floated down an engorged river. Brisbane's office buildings stood empty with the normally bustling central business district transformed into a watery ghost town.

A 300-yard (-meter) stretch of a pedestrian boardwalk weighing 300 tons broke loose and drifted downstream before two tug boats were able to steer it away from bridges.
Despite the devastation, many remained thankful the river had spared them the worst of its fury.

"There's a fair bit of relief around this morning – we're thanking our stars a bit, that's for sure," said Andrew Turner, whose house in the flooded suburb of Graceville escaped inundation. "We were pretty much braced for the worst and were all but packed up and ready to go."

Lisa Sully, who lives in the nearby suburb of Sherwood, did have some water in her home – but she still felt lucky on Thursday.

"I can handle this," she said. "Mentally, I was prepared for worse."

The death toll has shocked Australians, no strangers to deadly natural disasters like the wildfires that killed 173 in a single day two years ago.
One tale has particularly transfixed the country: a 13-year-old boy caught in the flood who told strangers to save his 10-year-old brother first and died as a result.

Jordan and Blake Rice were in the car with their mother, Donna, when a wall of water pummeled Toowoomba on Monday. After the torrent of water knocked one rescuer over, another man managed to reach the car, The Australian newspaper reported. At Jordan's insistence, he pulled Blake out first, according to a third brother, Kyle.

"Courage kicked in, and he would rather his little brother would live," the 16-year-old told the newspaper. Jordan and his mother were washed away before the men were able to get back to them.

By Wednesday, Jordan's name was among the top 10 most used terms on Twitter, as a wave of tweets hailed him as a "true hero" of the Queensland floods.

In contrast to the wall of water that swallowed Toowoomba, Brisbane's crisis has been marked by the waters' slow but steady progress.

"I was quite panicked after seeing Toowoomba," Ali Cook, of Brisbane, said Wednesday. "But it's been such a slow rise. It's still rising quite a lot."

The waters have overwhelmed a dam built to protect Brisbane after the 1974 deluge.

Officials have opened the floodgates of the dam to prevent a greater disaster, contributing to the flooding downtown.

Though the full extent of the damage won't be known until the water is gone, even before Brisbane was threatened, Bligh estimated a cleanup and rebuilding to total around $5 billion.

Add to that, the damage to economy: Queensland's coal industry has virtually shut down, costing millions in deferred exports and sending global prices higher. Vegetables, fruit and sugarcane crops in the rich agricultural region have been wiped out, and prices are due to skyrocket as a result.

Water levels were expected to stay at peak levels until at least Saturday, but many people won't be able to access their homes for several days beyond that, Bligh said. About 2,100 streets were covered in water and more than 4,000 people spent the night in evacuation centers.

Energex, Brisbane's main power company, started switching off electricity to some parts of the city as a precaution against electrocution. Almost 115,000 homes were without power across Queensland by Thursday, the company said.

West of Brisbane, in the city of Ipswich, home to about 15,000 people, 3,000 properties were swamped by the waters, and 1,100 people had fled to evacuation centers, Mayor Paul Pisasale said. The floods also reached further into New South Wales, causing about 3,000 people to leave their homes there.

In Ipswich, video showed horses swimming through the brown waters, pausing to rest their heads on the roof of a house – the only dry spot they could reach.


January 12th, 2011, 09:49 PM


January 13th, 2011, 07:50 AM
That water should be given a ticket.

Crossing against the light like that!

January 13th, 2011, 10:22 AM
Really scary. I witnessed a flash flood in California a number of years ago, where a sudden river of mud came booming down a mountainside and through a valley, sweeping away cars and structures. Completely horrifying, but that was miniscule compared to what is taking place now in Queensland.

January 13th, 2011, 11:22 AM
I was conceived near Brisbane, in a seashore town called Surfer's Paradise, at a hotel called the Sans Souci. I was told this some years ago by those who have knowledge of such things.

Since around Thanksgiving when the rains began, this historic flooding has been a terrible, slow-motion disaster--it's become Oz's Katrina-- and I wish all my distant cousins good luck.

January 13th, 2011, 01:05 PM
(I was born in a trunk...)

Over here by me, I think people are surprised about any bad news coming out of Australia. Australia and Canada are the places today that most people here idealize. A flood is not supposed to happen in Australia. Best wishes for a full and speedy recovery.

January 13th, 2011, 05:14 PM
Thu Jan 13, 2:03 pm ET
Boy saved brother’s life in Australian flood

By Liz Goodwin (http://news.yahoo.com/bloggers/liz-goodwin)

By Liz Goodwin (http://news.yahoo.com/bloggers/liz-goodwin) liz Goodwin (http://news.yahoo.com/bloggers/liz-goodwin) – Thu Jan 13, 2:03 pm ET
http://mit.zenfs.com/5/2011/01/boy_flood_solo.jpgJordan Rice, a 13-year-old Australian boy, has emerged as a tragic-heroic figure in news accounts of the disastrous Australian floods, after he asked a rescuer to save his little brother, Blake, before himself. Jordan Rice and his mother, Donna, were swept away by floodwaters and drowned before rescuer Warren McErlean could return for them.
Jordan's father, John Tyson, told the Toowoomba Chronicle (http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/yblog_upshot/ts_yblog_upshot/storytext/boy-saved-brothers-life-in-australian-flood/39641877/SIG=1312nh5cc/*http://www.thechronicle.com.au/story/2011/01/12/jordan-rice-death-flood-sacrifice-brother-save/) Jordan could not swim and was terrified of water.
[Related: Flooded Australian city 'like a war zone' (http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/yblog_upshot/ts_yblog_upshot/storytext/boy-saved-brothers-life-in-australian-flood/39641877/SIG=10n855c8r/*http://yhoo.it/ef6edO)]
"I can only imagine what was going on inside to give up his life to save his brother, even though he was petrified of water," he said. "He is our little hero."
Tyson told the paper his longtime partner, Donna Rice, was driving with two of her young sons in tire-level water when her engine stopped. She called for help and the three of them got on the roof of the car as the floodwaters rose quickly. Bystanders were not offering help until McErlean tied a rope around himself and went after them.
A wave of water was coming fast when McErlean reached them with the rope. "Save my brother first," Jordan said, according to McErlean. (http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/yblog_upshot/ts_yblog_upshot/storytext/boy-saved-brothers-life-in-australian-flood/39641877/SIG=13d7ad4a2/*http://www.3news.co.nz/Australian-floods-Heroism-amidst-devastation/tabid/417/articleID/194245/Default.aspx)
[Related: President Obama at Ariz. memorial: 'We can be better' (http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/yblog_upshot/ts_yblog_upshot/storytext/boy-saved-brothers-life-in-australian-flood/39641877/SIG=10nvkt8d7/*http://yhoo.it/i67XLg)]
Jordan and his mother were swept away, and only 10-year-old Blake survived.
At least 19 people have died in the Queensland floods, according to Reuters (http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/news/yblog_upshot/ts_yblog_upshot/storytext/boy-saved-brothers-life-in-australian-flood/39641877/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110113/wl_nm/us_australia_floods).
You can watch McErlean talk about the rescue effort in the video below:

(Australian flood victim Jordan Rice: AP)

January 16th, 2011, 02:47 AM
Australians grieve, search for more flood victims

BRISBANE, Australia -- Survivors of devastating Australian floods sought solace Sunday in church services while emergency workers searched through sodden wrecked homes for victims.

Three weeks of flooding across Australia's northeast have left a vast territory underwater and caused 27 deaths, most of them from a flash flood that hit towns west of Brisbane on Monday. Fourteen people are still missing.

In Grantham, described as the epicenter of the flash flood, 70 percent of the town remained cordoned off while searchers looked for bodies. The body of one woman was found Sunday in her wrecked house.

"People I hope will understand the pressure that the police are working under in these sorts of circumstances and be patient," Queensland state Premier Anna Bligh said. "They are working as hard as they can to be in a position to allow people back into Grantham as quickly as possible."

The wall of water that swept through the town left dozens of smashed cars wedged in trees or bogged in fields, tilted houses off foundations and piled up muddied belongings in the streets.

In nearby Murphys Creek, a church service at the local pub was held for survivors to grieve and remember their lost friends and family.

"Words really cannot express what the people of the Lockyer Valley are feeling at the moment," local parliament representative Scott Buchholz said after the service. They "are emotionally fragile yet display a bravery that is remarkable."

Cleanup continued in Australia's third-largest city, Brisbane, where 30,000 homes and businesses were flooded. The complete cleanup could take months and reconstruction up to two years.

The engorged rivers that flooded towns in Queensland state have spread into states to the south. In New South Wales, nearly 7,000 people have been isolated by floodwaters that overflowed highways and emergency services helicopters air-dropped food and other supplies to residents.

In northern Victoria, a dozen small communities were sandbagging amid fears of high-peaking rivers, and 3,000 people have evacuated.


February 2nd, 2011, 06:14 AM
This is heartbreaking.

How Cyclone Yasi compares around the world

By Lincoln Archer and Andi Mastrosavas


LIVE COVERAGE: Yasi's collision course (http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/floodrelief/north-queensland-braces-for-cyclone-anthony-as-cyclone-yasi-brews-behind-it/story-fn7ik2te-1225998711771)

IF you're struggling to grasp the magnitude of Tropical Cyclone Yasi, consider this: it is so large it would almost cover the United States, most of Asia and large parts of Europe.

Most of the coverage about the scale of Yasi has tried to compare it with storms of the past - it's bigger than Larry, more powerful than Tracy.

But just as powerful is this comparison, showing this storm is continental in size. The main bloc of the cyclone is 500km wide, while its associated activity, shown above in a colour-coding to match intensity, stretches over 2000km.

The storm's scale of destruction is as shocking as it is inevitable. In the map above, the United States from Pennsylvania in the east to Nevada in the west, from Georgia in the south to Canada in the north and well into Mexico would be battered with 300km/h winds and up to one metre of rain.

The economic impact would be felt around the world.

This map shows the impact if the storm was attacking Asia:

TC Yasi superimposed on Asia


Again, the scale is unthinkable - taking in an area from Japan, the Koreas and China all the way through southeast Asia, around through India and the Himalayas and threatening large parts of central Asia.

This would have billions of people directly in the path of the category 5 storm, creating a human tide of displaced cyclone "refugees".

This map shows the storm over western and central Europe:

TC Yasi superimposed on Europe


Just as we saw in our visualisation of the Queensland floods, the whole of Britain would be overwhelmed.

But this time, France and Germany would also be catastrophically affected, delivering another body blow to the European economy at the least and also disrupting the lives of hundreds of millions of people.

Even the eye of Yasi is as big as a city. This next map shows the heart of the storm over New Orleans, covering Louisiana and neighbouring states.

The eye itself, at 35km across, would stretch over all of the Katrina-ravaged city's centre. In the maps below, you can see Shanghai and New Zealand's north island bearing the brunt of category five.

Yasi's eye over New Orleans


Yasi's eye over Shanghai


Yasi's eye over New Zealand


These maps are merely visualisations of relative scales and are not meant to suggest storms of this level would form anywhere in the world.

Instead, they illustrate an annual threat that is, if not uniquely Australian, at least so much a part of our summer that we speak of "cyclone season" as though it is on a par with "cricket season".

But every so often, we are forced to confront the raw power of our country and its dangers.


February 2nd, 2011, 06:29 AM
Cyclone Yasi upgraded to category 5

Andrew Carswell



CYCLONE Yasi has been upgraded to Category 5, and is now expected to hit right on high tide, increasing the potential for mass destruction.

The weather bureau has revised its estimate and is now forecasting the possibility of 320km/h gusts when the potentially deadly storm hits land.

Premier Anna Bligh has warned people in far North Queensland if they are going to leave to go now.

Ms Bligh said evacuations of low-lying areas were still taking place and the cyclone was likely to hit earlier than expected - around 10pm at high tide - which she described as the worst possible news.

She said the storm surge is likely to be devastating along a vast stretch of the north Queensland coast.

"This is the most severe, most catastrophic storm that has ever hit our coast,'' she told the ABC.

"We've seen a number of worst case scenarios come together." The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) in Brisbane said that at 5am Yasi was about 650 kilometres east-northeast of Cairns and 650 kilometres northeast of Townsville moving west southwest at 30km/h.

"The cyclone has now reached category five and will continue to move in a west-southwesterly direction during today,'' the BoM said on its website on Wednesday morning.

Coastal residents, particularly between Port Douglas and Townsville, were being warned of an "extremely dangerous" storm tide as the cyclone approaches and crosses the coast. It is likely to cause flooding some way inland.

Winds with gusts to 90km/h were expected on coastal islands later on Wednesday morning, then extend on to the coast during the day.

Gusts over 125km/h were expected between Cooktown and Ingham in the afternoon, and gusts reaching above 280km/h between Port Douglas and Cardwell in the evening as the cyclone approached.

Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from low-lying areas as the cyclone approaches, with its full fury expected to hit the region around Cairns sometime after 10pm on Wednesday.

The Australian Defence Force was called in to evacuate hundreds of patients from two Cairns hospitals who started arriving in Brisbane on Tuesday evening.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said on Tuesday mandatory evacuation orders were being given in council areas from Cook to Hinchinbrook for people in flood-risk areas.

Cairns Airport will close at 10am on Wednesday.

Yasi is expected to be Queensland's worst cyclone, covering something approaching twice the physical size of Cyclone Larry, which devastated Innisfail in 2006 and left a $1.5 billion damage bill.

But perhaps more frighteningly, for a more befitting comparison experts have even thrown up the ominous name of Hurricane Katrina, she of New Orleans infamy.

The massive cyclone is expected to whip up a tsunami-style tidal surge of almost 3m that will inundate low-lying areas, its high winds of 280km/h to cause indiscriminate destruction to coastal suburbs.

Such is the scope of the cyclone that at its peak it will stretch for 600km, while the eerie calm usually experienced in the eye of the storm could last for more than an hour ... before the mauling resumes.

There remains a strong chance that lives could be lost, according to Queensland Premier Anna Bligh - a scenario that would pour additional pain on the shoulders of a state still reeling from the raging torrents that claimed 22 lives last month.

She said Yasi's winds would be "life-threatening" as she issued mandatory evacuation orders throughout Cairns' low-lying suburbs, moving 9000 residents to higher ground. "I don't want to frighten people, or panic them, but all the information I'm getting is that we are facing a potentially very deadly event," she said.

"This of course is not only a system now tracking as more intense than Cyclone Larry, it is significantly larger than Cyclone Larry."

Ms Bligh urged residents living in the cyclone's path to head as far south as possible.

It was a suggestion widely embraced by many apprehensive residents yesterday. The steamy tropical cities of Cairns and Townsville have been rendered ghost towns, resort islands Daydream and Hamilton are bare, and airlines have been forced to put on extra flights to cater for the numbers of tourists and residents wishing to make a hasty exit.

Eleven aircraft from the Australian Defence Force, Royal Flying Doctor Service and the government air wing will today be used to evacuate patients from Cairns Base and Cairns Private hospitals.

About 300 schools in Queensland's north will be closed from today.

"There's a lot of fear and trepidation about it. I think this is the biggest cyclone that people can remember and the fact it's heading straight towards us is cause for great worry," Cairns mayor Val Schier said..

In Townsville, residents stockpiled emergency items such as portable radios and batteries, supplies of which ran dry by mid afternoon.

"We have sold out of all of our standard range of radios and people have started buying full sound systems because they can't get anything else," Domain Betta Electrical's Lisa McGrath said.

GALLERY: Australia's worst Cyclones (http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/gallery-e6freuy9-1225997852839?page=1)


February 2nd, 2011, 09:45 AM
Geez, that ain't good.

I just hope that the timing is perfect to make things like receding tides battle the storm surges or AU's coast may be utterly destroyed....

I wonder what is causing this? I can say "global warming" but I do not want to until I am certain. The additional energy in the oceans due to that few degree difference may be enough to scale up all meteorological events to this extent, but I do not want to cry "wolf" if it is really a Mama Grizzley at the door....

February 2nd, 2011, 08:38 PM
Merry, how far from there do you live?

February 3rd, 2011, 05:12 AM
^ I live on the the southern part of the west coast, a couple of thousand miles or so away.

The major cities of Cairns and Townsville were largely spared, but other places, including Innisfail, which suffered very badly from Cyclone Larry in 2006, were hit very hard. Lost all their banana plantations again. It wasn't as bad as predicted and no lives were lost, thank goodness. It's the storm surges and flooding that are of greatest concern now. The sheer size of Yasi means that it will also affect other States.

Cyclone Yasi snapshot (http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/cyclone-yasi-snapshot-20110203-1afbq.html)

My city was also threatened by the remnants of another cyclone that travelled from the north-west down the west coast, which is very unusual. Fortunately, the dire predictions didn't come true here, but there were towns inland, including one where a friend lives (her house is OK), that were hit pretty hard. It's all very weird.

February 3rd, 2011, 04:47 PM
So what will the plantation owners do now? Will they get assistance? Is there insurance? Seems to be cyclical, like this nutty winter we're having here.