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  1. #51
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    Brisbane battens down the hatches as flooding peaks

    Thousands of residents of Brisbane are rushing to evacuate homes and move to higher ground as the region's worst flood in decades bore down on the city.

    Anna Bligh, the state's premier who has spearheaded the official response to the unfolding disaster, warned the country's third largest city would wake up to unprecedented damage.

    "Brisbane will go to sleep tonight and wake up to scenes many will never have seen before in their lives," she warned.

    The death toll from devastating floods swamping south-east Queensland climbed to 12, with another 43 people missing, the state capital Brisbane braced for more than 50 suburbs to be inundated with rapidly rising water.

    The most recent estimates suggest that 20,000 homes, 3,500 businesses and 2,100 roads will be hit by the massive flood as the swollen Brisbane River peaks at 17ft early on Thursday morning.

    In preparation, residents in affluent riverside suburbs rushed to save their most precious belongings as the water steadily inched higher throughout the day.

    Some people used canoes and boats to float their possessions out of waterlogged streets, while scores of volunteers helped form human chains to transport furniture, photo albums and pets over the floodwaters to waiting cars.
    By the mid-afternoon, muddy water had reached chest-height inside several houses and was expected to reach the eaves of some homes by nightfall.
    But the crisis was not confined to the suburbs. Brisbane's city centre, located in a bend in the river, was also in the path of the flood.
    The usually-bustling grid of streets resembled a ghost-town as large parts of the public transport network were suspended and power was cut to several blocks.
    Queen Street Mall, normally thronged with shoppers, was empty after businesses shut their doors and sandbagged their shopfronts.
    Police directed traffic as a few curious onlookers stopped to gawk at the extraordinary sight of main thoroughfares covered with several feet of water.
    On the Brisbane River, which had risen to engulf parks, riverside restaurants and walkways, authorities were preparing to destroy several large barges and ferries that were in danger of breaking loose from their moorings and shooting downriver "like torpedoes".
    The river itself was a torrent, with boats, pontoons, piers, furniture and other debris sweeping downstream and mingling with sewage overflowing from flooded homes.
    Water levels overnight are expected to reach levels just below Brisbane's last major flood - in 1974 - which killed 14 people and crippled the city.
    However, authorities have warned that the impact of the current floods will be worse, because the city is now both more populous and more built up. Fearing the worst, some 3,000 people had on Wednesday night started to fill several evacuation centres around the city.
    The crisis in Brisbane comes after almost one month of flooding across Queensland which now covers an area the size of France and Germany combined.
    Colin and Lorna Wilkinson, who emigrated to Australia from England more than 30 years ago, were among those who were forced to leave their Brisbane home as the flood waters rose.
    Their apartment block, on the banks of the Brisbane river, had lost power and all residents were told to get out.
    "It is quite scary for us, we didn't expect it.
    "We had been watching what was going on up north with the floods and how bad it was but we had rose-coloured glasses and we thought it couldn't happen to us."



    Brisbane battens down the hatches as flooding peaks - Telegraph

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    Australia floods: swept to his death, the boy who told rescuers to 'save my brother first'

    A teenage boy who put his brother's life before his own was one of the 12 people confirmed to have died in the floods.


    A car is swept along in central Toowoomba. The perils of staying to meet the flood have been illustrated in countless stories of people swept to their deaths Photo: GETTY






    By Bonnie Malkin, Brisbane 12:06AM GMT 13 Jan 2011

    Jordan Rice, 13, was killed in the city of Toowoomba, 80 miles west of Brisbane, as his family car was swamped. The teenager had insisted that rescuers take his 10-year-old brother, Blake, first. Seconds later, Jordan and his mother Donna, 43, were swept away.

    "I had the boy [Blake] in one hand, the rope in the other. I wasn't going to let go but then the torrent came through and was pulling us down," said Warren McEr[at]lean, a rescue worker. "Then this great big tall fellow just came out of nowhere, bear hugged us and ripped us out of the water. When I got back [carrying Blake], I turned … the rope snapped and the car just flipped."

    "Jordan was swept off," said John Tyson, 46, Ms Rice's partner of 30 years and Jordan's father. "As soon as he went, Donna just let go, you know, trying to clutch at Jordan. The poor little boy, they just both drowned.''

    He added: "He [the rescue worker] went to grab Jordan first, who said, 'Save my brother'. I can only imagine the fear coursing through his body.

    "He won't go down with any fanfare or anything like that – I don't think anyone will even wear a black armband for him – but he's just the champion of all champions, a family hero."





    As the floods surged from the west towards the state capital, residents in the Brisbane suburb of Milton were already ruing the damage the torrent had caused. Matt Newkirk's ground-floor apartment was already under several feet of water, so he had moved up to the building's first floor. He had stored his possessions above the kitchen cupboards and was hoping for the best before he was forced to flee.
    The last time he checked on his apartment, before the flood made it inaccessible, "the fridge was floating down the hallway".
    The perils of staying to meet the flood have been illustrated in countless stories of people swept to their deaths.
    Locals in the town of Grantham mourned Joshua Ross, a child care worker, who had declared he would remain in the family home to save his wheelchair-bound mother.
    The house collapsed, presumably killing Mr Ross, his mother and her partner. Distressed neighbours could only watch as a body fitting Mr Ross's description later floated past the Grantham Hotel. Such dangers meant that most residents of Milton were moving early to higher ground. Outside almost every house, a pick-up truck was parked in the drive, being hastily filled with sofas, children's toys and televisions. People not affected by the flooding walked the streets, calling out offers of help to anyone who needed it.
    Colin Woodhouse, originally from Sheffield, was emptying his house as water lapped at the front steps. He said: "It's getting dodgy here already, you can see the water rising, so I'm not sure how much longer we'll be able to hang on."



    Australia floods: swept to his death, the boy who told rescuers to 'save my brother first' - Telegraph

  3. #53
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    Just found out my sister lost her house in the floods as her house backed onto the river. I guess she would have lost the cars and bikes as well.
    Thats got to be hard to take.

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    We'll wade on, as we always do

    As Queensland struggles with floods of biblical proportions, Andrew Mueller marvels at his fellow countrymen's fortitude in the face of raw nature.


    A young girl is carried to safety after thousands of residents were ordered to evacuate as entire suburbs in Ipswich, west of Brisbane, were submerged by the flooding Photo: EPA/REX






    8:44PM GMT 12 Jan 2011 1 Comment


    In May 1990, I left Sydney for London, a 21-year-old Australian embarking upon his ritual adventure of annoying continental commuters by hitting them in the ribs with his backpack. As the 747 flew north across my homeland, the view from my window was something that shouldn't have been there: water. More than a million square kilometres of Queensland and New South Wales, an area roughly four times the size of the United Kingdom, had been submerged by floods.

    I remember being impressed, because this was an inundation remarkable even by Australian standards. But I don't recall being even slightly surprised. Natural disasters of biblical proportions are to Australians what misty drizzle is to the British. I have a vague recollection of a television news report from around that period. A journalist was interviewing a farmer, knee-deep in the vast lake which had been his property, asking him the useless question: how did he feel? The farmer shrugged and replied: "The whole bloody lot burnt down in a fire six months ago".

    The reason this snippet has lodged in my memory isn't tough to divine. It is a perfect caricature of how the world sees Australians, and, indeed, how we prefer to see ourselves: stoic, laconic, ready with a wry quip – even when confronted with disaster. It also says something about the relationship Australians endure with the glorious and volatile continent that tolerates our presence.

    It is likely that many of the recently swamped rural properties in Queensland are beneficiaries of the State's Drought Relief Assistance Scheme. Only five years ago, the town of Toowoomba, deluged by terrifying flash floods this week, was so parched that its municipal politics were consumed by a rancorous referendum on a proposal that recycled sewer water be used for drinking. If the Australian sense of humour tends toward the ironic, there are reasons for that.

    The image of Australians as rugged, practical, deadpan, semi-sophisticated but likeable, leather-skinned larrikins is assiduously promoted by our tourist boards and corporations, and ourselves. It is not altogether inaccurate – cultural stereotypes usually have some basis in truth, which is how they become cultural stereotypes. But it does occlude a crucial truth about the country. There are slightly fewer than 22 million people in Australia. Around 13.5 million of those dwell in five cities – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth. Add another couple of million living in the tropical sprawl on Queensland's coast, a couple of medium-sized (and also coastal) settlements in New South Wales, and our somnolent national capital, Canberra, and you come up with a portrait of an overwhelmingly urban society, most of whose citizens are unlikely ever to see a crocodile, never mind wrestle one.



    That said, every Australian knows that they live and prosper at the occasionally malevolent whim of our environment. My own upbringing was in most respects typically Australian, distinguished only by the peregrinations attendant upon having a father in the army. I was a middle-class urban kid who did middle-class urban kid stuff, and had the good fortune to do that in some of the most affable, secure cities on earth, save for a few caveats pertaining to local fauna, including regularly checking the family pets – and ourselves – for Australia's voracious ticks, and making damn sure any shoes left outside overnight were given a good shake before wearing.
    However, Australia never quite lets you relax entirely. A primary school class can be joined, as mine was in 1975, by dazed children evacuated from Darwin, destroyed by Cyclone Tracy on Christmas Day, 1974. An evening on your uncle's farm near Tumbarumba might be interrupted, as mine was more than once, by an urgent instruction that he report for duty with his volunteer fire brigade.
    Friends in Sydney might email you, as mine did in 1999, photos of the colossal hailstones that dropped from an April sky, shattering windows and roofs and battering cars. And you might field a call, as I did in London in January 2003, from your parents in central Canberra, bemusedly observing that the daytime skies around them were a luminous red, that blizzards of ash were tumbling into the streets, and that the suburb in which we had lived in the late Seventies to early Eighties, a shortish drive away, was substantially ablaze.
    And then you do what Australians always do. If you're not there, you throw some money the way of the relief fund. Though an inhabitant of Perth is as far from a Brisbanite as a Londoner is from a Damascene, Australians respond with national purpose in such situations. The appeal by the Australian Red Cross in the wake of the Black Saturday fires that devastated Victoria in 2009, incinerating several towns and killing 173 people, raised A$315 million, about £151 million at the then exchange rate, which averages out at around £7 for every man, woman and child in Australia. (Information about the Queensland flood relief appeal, while we're up this way, is at www.qld.gov.au – Australia's cricketers set an example by passing around buckets before yesterday's 20/20 match in Adelaide, and England donated part of their match fees.)
    If you are there, you clean up, you rebuild, and try not to fret too much about it happening again. In response to the 2009 fires, federal and state authorities established the Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction and Recover Authority, with its telling website, www.wewillrebuild.vic.gov.au.
    Over the coming months, Queenslanders will need to summon something of this boneheadedness. This New South Welshman means it nothing but respectfully when he says that he doubts that they will have difficulty managing this. Like no other Australians, the people of Queensland flaunt a regional pride that verges on an adjunct nationality, congruent with the genial chauvinism espoused in Texas, Bengal, or Yorkshire.
    In the case of Queenslanders, this is perhaps amplified by the disgraceful amusement the rest of us occasionally take in lampooning our northern cousins as sun-addled yahoos, mired in a culture so backwards that, well, even other Australians notice. This is, of course, unfair – though the late "crocodile hunter" Steve Irwin serves eternally as the archetypal Queenslander, Brisbane also recently named a new bridge after The Go-Betweens, a cultishly adored and determinedly literate indie rock group who formed in the city in the late Seventies. The state, and the country it is part of, have much to draw on now, as they have had in such circumstances before – and as they will again, probably not long in the future.
    Everybody who has attended an Australian school knows the second stanza of My Country, a patriotic ode written in the early 20th century by Dorothea Mackellar:
    I love a sunburnt country,
    A land of sweeping plains,
    Of ragged mountain ranges,
    Of droughts and flooding rains,
    I love her far horizons,
    I love her jewel sea,
    Her beauty and her terror –
    The wide brown land for me!
    "Her beauty and her terror" – that's it right there, the prize and the price we pay. It seems proper, however, to give the last word to another appropriate Australian poem. Said Hanrahan, published in the Twenties by the poet-priest Patrick Joseph Hartigan, chronicles the tumult of Australia's seasons as seen by the titular Irishman. In the first verses, Hanrahan's community, whose travails would be recognised in 21st-century Toowoomba, is aggrieved by the absence of rain:
    "If we don't get three inches, man,
    Or four to break this drought,
    We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
    "Before the year is out."
    He only has to wait 12 lines.
    And every creek a banker ran,
    And dams filled overtop;
    "We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
    "If this rain doesn't stop."
    We'll wade on, as we always do - Telegraph

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    PREMIER Anna Bligh says Brisbane has become a ``post-war zone'' as the damage done to to the city's shattered suburbs is revealed. While the Brisbane River peak was lower than first feared, and well below the record levels of the 1974 floods, thousands of homes and businesses have been wiped out, and the Premier says more heartbreak still lay ahead for more of the city's residents.
    "All the briefings in the world don't really prepare you for what you're going to see," Ms Bligh said. ``This is still a very dangerous sitaution, thousands of people are waiting for the total devastation of their homes and businesses, and for some people it's both.
    ''The task ahead for these people is massive.
    Email your flood pics or MMS to 0428 258 117

    ``We should be very mindful that mother nature has done shocking and devastating damage.


    ``People are living, at the moment, in what I would call a post-war zone.
    ``I look across my state right now and there is three-quarters of the state that has experienced what people are seeing on their TV screens.''
    Many Brisbane suburbs remain under water despite the Brisbane River not reaching an expected peak of 5.2m earlier.
    Around 123,000 Energex customers are still without power.
    The company has said it is unknown when many parts will be restored.
    “We’ll get info out as soon as we can. We know this is difficult for many,” the company tweeted.
    Energex has asked residents to be patient while repairs are underway.
    Rocklea was almost 3m underwater and eerily quiet as the sun rose this morning.
    If it wasn't for the odd kayaker paddling next to power lines it would be a ghost town.
    The Rocklea Markets have now been submerged for 24 hours.
    Shell-shocked locals have just arrived to the edge of flooded streets.
    They are quiet and already counting the cost.
    The suburb's large industrial sector, sustaining thousands of families, is virtually invisible.
    Only the roofs of factories and hundreds of homes can be seen.
    Late last night some locals chose to stay in two-storey homes.
    It is not yet known how they fared but police have not reported any casualties.
    The Courier-Mail surveyed the damage from a boat and witnessed water lapping 1m below the roofs of two-storey houses.
    Boats, kayaks and canoes are the only mode of transport today.
    This morning's high tide swallowed about five more blocks in three directions.
    Nearby Oxley Creek and its tributaries wrought more havoc as the tide rose for hours.
    Many who self-evacuated yesterday will soon return to the edge of floodwaters and watch their possessions floating by.
    Nearby hotels and motels are full and trucks that should be ferrying fresh produce from the markets line Beaudesert Rd.
    On the other side of town, St Lucia was one of the suburbs hardest hit by the flood, but many residents were today breathing a sigh of relief that things were not much, much worse.
    Homes and businesses were inundated but locals said the flooding was nowhere near as bad as they had feared.
    "I was expecting the water to come up a lot higher," said Samford St resident Pete Traynor-Boyland, whose three-storey unit block was flooded.
    "It definitely could have been a lot worse. The water came up to the second floor and my unit is on the third floor, so I'm one of the lucky ones."
    Samford St was one of the worst-affected streets, along with Macquarie St and Brisbane St where businesses including a Shell service station were partially submerged.
    The University of Queensland's sporting facilities also suffered major flooding.
    On Sir Fred Schonell Drive, a 40m tree crashed through a flooded backyard and onto the road after it's roots gave way.
    Another St Lucia resident Joe Erpf said the water had risen only about 500mm since yesterday - a lot less than he had been expecting.
    Some Toowong residents partied last night and there were celebrations of sorts this morning with the realisation the flooding was not as dire as 1974.
    Local James Fowler said he saw young men having a street party last night as they waited for the flood peak.
    "They had a fire burning, a couple of beers and were taking it in good spirit," he said.
    "Our main concern was how far up the street the water would come, but I'm relieved to see it hasn't come nearly as far as we had anticipated.
    "Whilst a lot of people are suffering of course, a lot of people will be relieved that they still have a dry home to live in.
    "So we'll fire up the barbie and have a cup of tea I think."
    As dawn broke, residents of Taringa and Indooropilly who stayed behind began trickling into the streets to assess the grim damage.
    They found large parts of their suburbs submerged under brown water littered with debris.
    In Westerham St at Taringa, a lone woman paused in the middle of the road which resembled a dirty lake. In heavily flooded Whitmore Street between the two suburbs, a mother showed her young son a submerged car and water inundating a group of workshops.
    "We live up on the hill in Taringa and couldn't see anything from up there, so we came down for a closer look," the woman said.


    Brisbane suburbs start to count the cost after flood | Courier Mail

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    Horror at mass underwater grave in Grantham, Lockyer Valley



    A police diver searches for victims under the Grantham bridge. Picture: Craig Borrow Source: Source: The Daily Telegraph


    Debris covers a bridge at Grantham, where many lives are believed to have been lost. Picture: Craig Borrow Source: The Daily Telegraph


    The tiny town of Grantham was devastated by Monday's flash flood. Picture: Cathy Finch Source: The Daily Telegraph

    < Prev






    IT was once a railway bridge used daily by freight trains, and now it is a mass underwater grave, bearing little hope for rescuers.

    Bobbing in the muddy water beneath the Grantham bridge are up to 30 crumpled cars, washed down stream when the flood hit.
    "You'd have to think with 30-odd cars here, we're about to find some pretty unpleasant things," a police officer said.

    Within the once 300-strong community, some 43 people are missing. Another three have been confirmed dead.
    The once vibrant Grantham has become a ghost town, the ground zero of Queensland's crisis.
    Just one street of houses remains intact - everything else has been flattened.

    Communication is a struggle, with no power or phone lines, but the consensus among survivors and rescuers alike is: "If you haven't been found by now, you simply couldn't have survived."
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    As a team of disaster specialist police headed towards the makeshift grave beneath the rail bridge, locals took a deep breath and waited for answers.
    &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a href="http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php/option=com_mobile/task=viewaltcast/altcast_code=7fed6fe117" &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;Queensland floods&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;

    "I know there is a body in that white car - it's a mother who my husband couldn't get to," a resident, Karen, said. "He got her daughter off the roof but he couldn't get to the mum."

    Another local, Martin Warburton, knows there are bodies beneath the bridge.

    "I thought they were people swimming then I realised they were dead," he said.

    "You saw hands, legs, hair being thrashed about.

    "But by the time I got close to the water, I realised they weren't swimming, they were gone.

    "They were dead."

    The specialist police wasted no time wading into the water to begin their grim search.

    Dressed in wetsuits, the officers waded out to the first upturned car.

    Their long search had begun.

    On the nearby riverbank, a female officer was collecting registration plates that may help to identify the bodies expected to be found inside.

    As each vehicle was checked, it was then pulled from the murky water by bulldozer and towed on to dry land for further inspection.

    "The divers out there are basically looking for people in the cars; then we bring the vehicles in here and have a good look for anything else that might be of interest to us," a police spokesman said.

    From the nearby rail tracks, locals watch on in hope.

    Children are kept away - at the local primary school, which has been set up as an evacuation site, with adults fearing that what may come out of the sunken vehicles will be too gruesome and distressing.

    "You know what, at this stage I just want to know who is alive and who isn't," resident Ken Dutton said.

    The recovery mission continued until dusk and will resume at first light today.

    Former Victorian Brendan Ronkovich miraculously escaped with his life, but the sight of a baby's body caught in the torrent- just metres from the tree he clung to- will never leave him.

    "He or she couldn't have been more than two or three months old," he said.

    "I couldn't do a thing. I just completely lost it."

    A Defence Force source said military helicopters had not lifted any bodies out of the flood zone by late yesterday.

    But the grim task was likely to begin today using helicopters based at Amberley RAAF base, west of Ipswich.

    Long-time resident Gerald Kundle summed up the devastation in Grantham: "I've lived here for 58 years, and this place is unrecognisable - it is like a war zone."

    A young family who live in the hamlet's remaining street said they felt guilty for surviving.

    "We watched houses floating by, an old couple clinging to the gutter of their home and screaming for help - it was horrific," Shantel Sippel said.

    "In 4 1/2 minutes, this place was basically wiped out," Steven Sippel said. "You kind of feel bad for surviving."

    The couple, together with their two children, took refuge on the roof of their home for four hours.

    "It was like the gates of Wyvenhoe Dam opened and flooded this place, that's the only way I can describe it," Mr Sippel said.

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    Wheres Nedwalk? I saw a picture of the Royal Hotel in Gympie and it was under water........

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    As usual Boston Globe site has the best photographs.....couple of classics here







    For the full set here's the link

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    ^ Saw them on the Courier Mail site first sorry.

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    "I had the boy [Blake] in one hand, the rope in the other. I wasn't going to let go but then the torrent came through and was pulling us down," said Warren McEr[at]lean, a rescue worker. "Then this great big tall fellow just came out of nowhere, bear hugged us and ripped us out of the water. When I got back [carrying Blake], I turned … the rope snapped and the car just flipped."

    "Jordan was swept off," said John Tyson, 46, Ms Rice's partner of 30 years and Jordan's father. "As soon as he went, Donna just let go, you know, trying to clutch at Jordan. The poor little boy, they just both drowned.''
    Giving cricket a single thought at a time like this seems trite and exceedingly shallow, even for you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dug View Post
    Giving cricket a single thought at a time like this seems trite and exceedingly shallow, even for you.
    As tragic as events are, life does go on. Except in this case the article is about the floods.

    And if you want one upmanship on horror stories - these floods have nothing on the Mentawi Islands Tsunami, Cholera Epidemic in Haiti or Mount Merapi Explosions, did the world stop then ?

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    Why were we so surprised? Germaine Greer

    Australian floods: Why were we so surprised?
    Meteorologists warned Australians six months ago to prepare for a soaking. And nobody did a thing ...

    Germaine Greer
    The Guardian, Saturday 15 January 2011


    ‘The problem is rain’ ... Clinging to railings on a flooded street, residents in Toowoomba are caught in floods that have devastated Australia’s north-east. Photograph: AP
    What's going on in Australia is rain. British people might think that they're rain experts. Truth is that they hardly know what rain is. The kind of cold angel sweat that wets British windscreens isn't proper rain. For weeks now rain has been drumming in my ears, leaping off my corrugated steel roof, frothing through the rocks, spouting off the trees, and running, running, running past my house and down into the gully, into the little creek, into the bigger creek, and on to the Nerang river and out to sea at Southport. We've had more than 350mm in the last four days. My creek is running so high and so fast that I can't get out and my workforce can't get in. I can't even go for a walk under the dripping trees, because I'll come back festooned with leeches. In these conditions you can end up with a leech in your eye, and there's no one here to help get it out.

    The rain comes in pulses. When the noise abates, momentarily, I can see Mount Hobwee through veils of wet mist, and then I hear the advancing roar of the next pulse, and everything shuts down again. Behind my house a white cataract is charging down the gully through the rocks. When I'm in bed I can feel the thudding of its raw power through my bones.

    So, yeah, as Australians say, the problem is rain. The ground is swollen with months of it. The new downpours have nowhere to go but sideways, across the vast floodplains of this ancient continent. We all learned the poem at school, about how ours is "a sunburnt country . . . of droughts and flooding rains". Groggy TV presenters who have been on extended shifts, talking floods for endless hours, will repeat the mantra, so hard is it wired into the heads of Australian kids. And yet we still don't get it. After 10 years of drought, we are having the inevitable flooding rains. The pattern is repeated regularly and yet Australians are still taken by surprise.

    The meteorologists will tell you that the current deluge is a product of La Niña. At fairly regular intervals, atmospheric pressure on the western side of the Pacific falls; the trade winds blow from the cooler east side towards the trough, pushing warm surface water westwards towards the bordering land masses. As the water-laden air is driven over the land it cools and drops its load. In June last year the bureau of meteorology issued a warning that La Niña was about "to dump buckets" on Australia. In 1989-90 La Niña brought flooding to New South Wales and Victoria, in 1998 to New South Wales and Queensland. Dr Andrew Watkins, manager of the bureau's climate prediction services, told the assembled media: "Computer model forecasts show a significant likelihood of a La Niña in 2010." In Brisbane the benchmark was the flood of 1974; most Queenslanders are unaware that the worst flood in Brisbane's history happened in 1893. Six months ago the meteorologists thought it was worthwhile to warn people to "get ready for a wet, late winter and a soaked spring and summer". So what did the people do? Nothing. They said, "She'll be right, mate". She wasn't.

    It takes La Niña to bring rain to the inland, in such quantities that it can hardly be managed. Manage it Australians must. The Wivenhoe Dam on the Brisbane river was built to protect the city of Brisbane from another flood like the one of 1974. For years it has been at 10% of capacity, so when it filled this year nobody wanted to let any of the precious water out. It eventually became clear that the dam had filled to 190% of its capacity, and the authorities realised with sinking hearts not only that the floodgates would have to be opened, but that the opening would coincide with a king tide in Moreton Bay. The question nobody has been heard to ask is whether or not the level of water in the dam should have been reduced gradually, beginning weeks ago. The mayor of Brisbane, aware that a disaster was about to occur on his watch, made a hysterical attack on the opponents of dam building, but what the succeeding events prove is that dams are no substitute for a coherent water strategy.

    The phenomenon is anything but momentary; the not-so-exceptional rainfall will continue, probably until the end of March. Professor Neville Nicholls, president of the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, believes that "the Queensland floods are caused by what is one of the strongest (if not the strongest) La Niña events since our records began in the late 19th century". He was asked if the intensification was a consequence of global warming, and declined to comment. Other people have been rather too quick to claim the extreme weather as a direct consequence of global warming. (It will surprise many readers of the Guardian to learn that in Australia there is still a bad-tempered debate about whether global warming is happening or not.)

    One of the penalties of living on the east coast, as most Australians do, is that all the rain that falls on the mountains known as the Dividing Range heads your way. Up here, at the top of the watershed, I have only to fear a landslide, which will happen if slopes now bulging with water actually burst. At sea level, it's anybody's guess. Meteorologists and hydrologists try to predict peak levels and peak times, and have to revise their estimates up and down like yo-yos.

    The world is aware of what has been happening in Australia because so much of Queensland's capital city, Brisbane, the "most livable city in Australia", is now submerged in dirty brown water. Smaller towns in Australia have been flooded for months; some have been flooded five times since the beginning of December. What the rest of the world must be asking is why Australians don't take steps to minimise the destruction? In the southern US you could take your Chevy to the levee; Australians rarely build them. An eight-metre levee has kept the town of Grafton dry, though the Clarence river is in massive spate, but Yamba, further downstream has no levee and is under water. Goondiwindi has an 11-metre levee to protect it from the Macintyre river, but hydrologists have predicted a peak of 10.85 metres – far too close for comfort. Evacuations have begun.

    When I drove south to see my family for Christmas, I had to drive around the floods in the Riverina; on the way back I had to avoid the flooded Richmond river round Kyogle. The Darling Downs area was inundated in December and has been inundated again; Dalby, Chinchilla, Warwick and Condamine had already started the clean-up, and have had to evacuate low-lying areas for the second time. The second flood in Chinchilla was worse than the December flood; residents have now been told to boil their water because the piped water is thought to have been contaminated by E coli. The Burnett river has flooded Bundaberg again and the Mary river Maryborough. Rockhampton has been under water for a month. There is no guarantee that the end is in sight.

    In the case of Toowoomba, Grantham and Murphy's creek, there was nothing to be done. The Lockyer valley suffered a flash flood, in which a sudden deluge generated an eight-metre wave of water that ripped through the towns, drowning people in their cars, popping houses off their stumps, and whirling them down stream. The resulting TV footage has been seen by Australians hundreds of times. It is the stuff of nightmares, with cars and buses bouncing end over end down streets full of people clutching at anything they can find to avoid being swept away. The army is now involved in searching for the bodies of the 61 people still missing; there is no more talk of rescue. The total dead to date is 26. In Brisbane a 24-year-old man went to check on his father and got swept into a storm drain.

    The rest of the world might well be scratching its head. Though the rise of the Brisbane river had been predicted for many days, owners left their boats on the river, some of them moored to pontoons, which were themselves ripped from their moorings. Literally hundreds of pontoons went careering down the river, crashing into unmanned powerboats that were already cannoning into each other. A long section of the riverside walkway broke away and became a waterborne missile. A floating restaurant was sucked under a bridge. Some idiots went racing around in the brown surge on jetskis, unmindful of the half-submerged debris that could have smashed them and their jetskis to smithereens. People who insisted on staying in their apartments appear not to have understood that the electricity company would turn off the current, that their refrigerators would not be working, that they couldn't get to a supermarket and that the supermarkets that weren't flooded had no food left. They are the only people who don't know, unless they have a battery-powered radio, what's going on. It could be weeks before the water drains from Brisbane streets, so even these die-hards may have to ask for help from the emergency services.

    The official view is that Australians in flood areas are being wonderful. They are pulling together, helping each other, staying cheerful, not complaining. When given the opportunity they make inspiring statements, that they'll rebuild their communities, stronger and better than ever. That they are Queenslanders, who don't give up. (And so forth.) What nobody is talking about yet, is whether the flood risk can be reduced.

    The colour of the water reveals a terrible truth. What is being washed downstream is topsoil. The water moves so rapidly because so much of the land has been cleared. Any wooded land will be, like mine, high in the catchment. As long ago as 1923, Sydney Skertchly, an Englishman who had been working for the Queensland government as a geologist before he retired to what is now the Gold Coast suburb of Molendinar, pointed out that rain that fell in the upper part of the Nerang river catchment that used to take five days to reach him on the coastal plain at Molendinar, now reached him in five hours. When the settlers first arrived on the coast of northern New South Wales and southern Queensland, the rivers were navigable. As the "scrubs" (the settlers' way of referring to rainforest) were ripped out, the seasonal rains carried the topsoil into the rivers, which silted up and then began to flood.

    The tide of brown water that is now polluting the sea off eastern Australia is bound to damage already damaged marine ecosystems. The world needs Australia to restore its mangroves, which is where the nutrients carried in the brown water would have been recycled. As well as sediment, the brown water carries nutrients and pesticides from agricultural run-off, together with whatever nasties have been washed out of flooded coalmines. Salinity of the sea-water could drop to 10 parts per 1,000 or even less and remain like that for weeks. After the Fitzroy river flooded Rockhampton in 1991, all the corals and sea grasses round the Keppel Islands died. The area had not yet recovered when the brown tide returned at the beginning of January, and keeps coming. The fresh water now entering the seas off Australia is expected to drift northwards to where the Great Barrier Reef is already struggling with rising sea temperatures. In ecological terms, worse, perhaps very much worse, is on the way. Australia owes it to the rest of the world to get a handle on its regular floods. Or she won't be right, mate.

    The creatures of the rainforest are used to rain. After gorging on the treefrogs that are mating in a rainpool by the house, a night tiger snake has come up to sleep the day away on my verandah. A rufous fly-catcher is hunting for his breakfast under the verandah roof because there are no insects out in the rain. The regent bowerbird is enjoying his morning shower 50 metres up in the top of the quandong, meticulously grooming each gleaming feather.
    Australian floods: Why were we so surprised? | Environment | The Guardian

  15. #65
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    Queensland's soggy soils revealed
    By Jonathan Amos Science correspondent, BBC News


    Smos passes over Australia twice a day, producing broad strips of imagery

    The extent to which Queensland's soils became saturated with water as the Australian state was deluged with rain is evident in new satellite imagery.


    The maps were made by Europe's Smos spacecraft, which carries a novel instrument capable of seeing the moisture held in the ground.

    Launched in 2009, the satellite is an experimental mission.

    The hope is that its data can be used in future to give flood warnings where wet soils are becoming overloaded.

    "This is what we want to do," explained Dr Claire Gruhier, a Smos researcher from Cesbio in Toulouse, France.

    "We are working on techniques that will allow us to combine the soil moisture product of Smos with the precipitation information from other satellites."

    The floods in Queensland have been among the worst ever recorded in the state.


    "Space chopper": The Smos radiometer makes the satellite look like a helicopter

    They have left a vast area under water, inundated 30,000 homes and businesses and claimed the lives of at least 30 people.

    Maps made by the European Space Agency Smos satellite document the state's increasingly soggy ground at the height of the natural disaster.

    The first image records the spacecraft's two passes over Australia on 25 December, when Tropical Cyclone Tasha was battering the Queensland coast.

    The wet earth in the north-east of the continent contrasts dramatically with the dry ground in central-west Australia.

    Darker blue colours denote soils that contain more than 40% water.

    In the week 22-28 December, some areas were experiencing more than 300 or 400 mm of precipitation.

    At that rate, the earth will rapidly saturate and any excess liquid will simply run off.


    Darker blue colours denote soils that contain more than 40% water

    The second map shows Smos data from 2 January, the day before the activation of the International Charter [on] Space and Disasters.

    This charter coordinates Earth observation satellites from many nations to provide imagery to support emergency services and aid organisations.

    In this instance, the request for help was initiated by charter member USGS (US Geological Survey) on behalf of Emergency Management Australia.

    The latest imagery from Smos illustrates the satellite's potential to deliver more timely flood warnings.

    If its data is tied together with precipitation forecasts, it could be used to assess which locations are most at risk.

    Smos carries a single instrument: an 8m-wide interferometric radiometer.

    This instrument works by measuring the natural emission of microwaves coming up off the planet's surface.

    Variations in the sogginess of the soil will modify this signal.

    The investigation of Smos soil moisture data is led from the Centre for the Study of the Biosphere from Space (Cesbio).

  16. #66

  17. #67
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    as of 1600hours its raining again on the darling downs west of the dividing range oakey, jondaryan and dalby are getting hit again we havent fininished cleaning up from last time yet!! for all my fellow poms, imagine 2years rainfall in Wigan , falling in 8days,my neighbour lost his boat and trailer we found it 9kms away , 8metres off the ground in a tree, last friday we got the first fresh supplies, bread, milk, rice and eggs, I cant imagine the bludgers in uk coping with anything like this, no power for 3 days, no fresh food for 10 days, completely cut off from the surrounding towns,in an area were most of the emergency services are volontary,it would put uk back in the stone age, might teach a few of them to save, no where to cash their giro,s

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    Boooring!!

    This is exciting. Those Victorian devos know how to have a good time eh? Ride em cowboy.

    Floods Victoria | Yarra River River rescue as sex toy bucks rider

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