When the first floods hit Queensland at the beginning of what would be a very rainy summer, we watched the pictures of inundated homes and evacuated people and while we were feeling sorry for them, and there were first victims, we still felt this detachment you have when you know that a natural disaster can not hit you, and that it’s all very far away.
The regions concerned then had been struck by floods at the end of last summer, in March 2010. Now again! It was terrible. But yes, still so far away.
Summer went on, and we were disappointed that it rained almost everyday during the Christmas holidays. More regions were flooded.
MrAwesome was scheduled to travel for work in exactly those regions by mid-January, they changed plans and I was just glad he was not stuck there.
Then happened the Toowoomba Flash Flood.
Those pictures went around the world.
We sat – shocked – in front of our TV and understood that the rain had swooped down the main road of Toowoomba in what was called an “inland tsunami” by many. The stories of the people surprised and lost in the powerful flash flood were incredible.
It was then that it became clear that something big was happening and it was on it’s way to the Brisbane catchment area.
Ipswich and Brisbane were bracing for what was predicted to be a higher flood level than the floods of January 1974.
The floods reached Ipswich and we held our breath. The pictures and stories of concerned areas were shown in loops on TV and became unsupportable.
Emergency services, evacuations, individual efforts of people frantically but systematically worked day and night knowing that Australia’s 3rd biggest City was on the way of this incredible amount of water moving towards the coast.
Over the last 2 days, Brisbane river swell and started to unstoppably leak over into the lower suburbs, gaining incredible speed, taking with it boots and pontoons, carrying debris and tons and tons of washed up brown mud.
The peak level was reached in the early hours of January 13th and Brisbane, today, wakes up with thousands of flooded homes, businesses, infrastructure and parkland. While the peak of 1974 seems to not have reached, the destruction in a region that has seen so much development in the last 40 years would be far greater than back then.
We are all under shock.
I’m not born here and the flood from 1974 was a historic event I had only vaguely heard about. We live in a safe zone, near the coast, but in a different catchment area, and shielded by the Moreton Bay Islands from winds or water that could come from the ocean. I feel incredibly lucky, that my husband chose this area when he came to live in Queensland as he could have moved anywhere. We are not directly concerned (although my husband can’t work right now), but the impact of this flood can’t be estimated in cost and consequences as yet. We will all be feeling it.
Even if the true dimensions of the damage are yet to emerge once the water starts to recede, it can already be said that the work by the different emergency service, the authorities in charge, the army, non-governmental and charitable organisations all over has helped make this disaster less deadly than it could have been. They are everywhere and and information is available. Individuals have shown great efforts to assist those that needed help to evacuate and we all know that Queensland and Australia as a whole will stand and show solidarity with the devastated regions and cities.
Because we have to.
75 % of Queensland are declared natural disaster zone. Already at the change of the year the flooded area was of a zone comparable with the surface of both Germany and France together. That was BEFORE the Brisbane catchment was concerned. Yesterday they were saying that the area concerned represents FOUR times what was under water after Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana in 2005.
My heart is breaking when I think of the lives lost, destroyed homes, years of work annihilated, cattle, pets and wildlife perished, memories, artwork, gardens disappeared under brown muddy water. It will take months to clean, years to recover. For all of us.
Photo : My son is running ahead as we walk down our beloved Riverwalk from New Farm to the Brisbane CBD in 2008. This solid 850 m pontoon construction came lose in the night and went down the Brisbane River…
Queensland, Brisbane, my home in Australia, my friend, I am so sad today and I promise you I will be here for you to help you through these dark times and get back on your feet and shine with a new life.
Because that’s what you have done for me in the past.