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Queensland Flood Disaster

I was a little shocked there's been no mention here of the really horrible flood situation in Queensland right now, so I've compiled a little bit of a post on it. 

Australia: Queensland floods spur more evacuations

 

Thousands more people are preparing to evacuate their homes as one of Australia's worst floods continues to inundate the state of Queensland.

Forced evacuations are being planned in Rockhampton as rising floodwaters threaten the town of 77,000.

Australian PM Julia Gillard has visited flooded Bundaberg, and flew over Emerald as evacuations there continued.

The floods have affected about 200,000 people over an area larger than France and Germany, Queensland's premier says.

An estimated 22 towns have been left isolated or inundated by the rising waters, with fears that damage could cost billions of Australian dollars to repair.

The situation in Emerald - a town of some 11,000 people - was particularly bad, Premier Anna Bligh told reporters.

There was also major concern for Rockhampton, where residents are said to be attempting to stockpile bread and fresh fruit and vegetables.

"We've seen lots of panic buying of food. Shelves in shopping centres are empty," Rockhampton resident Petros Khalesirad told the BBC.

"But I think people have been over-reacting. We have groceries arriving today and in the worst case scenario, the military will be involved in helping."

Officials in Rockhampton - where the floods peak could be up to 48 hours away - said a shift was under way from voluntary evacuations to compulsory relocation.

"Police will order people in affected areas to leave their homes," Mayor Brad Carter said.

Elderly people and other at-risk groups would be the first moved out of their properties, officials said.

Speaking as she toured affected areas with the prime minister, Ms Bligh described the flooding as "a long way from over".

"Authorities think there will be a very large group of people who will be homeless in the next 24 hours.

"We now have three major river systems in flood; we have 17 evacuation centres active; we have more than 1,000 people in those evacuation centres and many more thousands staying with relatives and friends."

 

Helicopter evacuations

Officials said the situation in Emerald remained uncertain and could yet get worse if floodwaters continue to rise.

The Nogoa River was due to peak on Friday afternoon, and 1,200 residents had already registered as evacuees before the waters hit their peak.

Helicopters including army Black Hawks have been ferrying residents to safer locations.

More than half of Queensland is now a disaster zone

Julia Gillard and Anna Bligh were due to visit Emerald on Friday but were unable to land, instead flying over the area to get an aerial view of the devastation.

Ms Gillard's first stop on land was in Bundaberg, which has seen its worst flooding for four decades and has been split in two by the swollen Burnett River. Waters there are now receding.

She spoke to evacuees and volunteers, and was briefed on the rescue and recovery effort.

"As devastating as these floods are, we are seeing a magnificent response by all levels of government and by emergency personnel," Ms Gillard said.

Two smaller towns, Theodore and Condamine, have been completely evacuated. In Condamine some residents had been refusing to leave their houses.

Recovery work following the floods is expected to cost billions of dollars, with officials warning of severe damage to homes, crops and livestock.

Sewerage systems have also been affected, raising public health concerns.

Petros Khalesirad told the BBC that Rockhampton was well-prepared but the effect on Queensland as a whole would be significant.

"These floods are going to affect the state, the whole nation. It's going to have a huge impact on mining commodities - several coal mines are under water and some won't be operational for months."

Source with map of flood areas as of 31/12/10.



Queensland floods: Rockhampton floodwaters 'peak'


 

Floodwaters in the Australian city of Rockhampton appear to have peaked at a lower level than previously feared.

The Fitzroy River which flows through the city seems to have levelled off at 9.2m (30ft) rather than 9.4m, but forecasters are warning of more rain.

Queensland is in the grip of a flood crisis, with some 40 communities affected and 1,200 homes submerged.

A task force has been created to lead recovery efforts. Officials say the flood bill could exceed A$5bn (£3bn).

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has appointed Maj Gen Mick Slater to head the task force.

With natural disasters declared across an area of a million square kilometres, Ms Bligh said the scale of the crisis was unprecedented and would require an unparalleled rebuilding effort.

"This is a very serious job ahead of us recovering from a disaster like this. Rebuilding regional Queensland will be a marathon, not a sprint," she said.

The deluge has ruined crops, closed most of the state's coal mines and caused "catastrophic" damage to Queensland's transport systems, Ms Bligh told Australian broadcaster ABC.


Snakes

In Rockhampton, the authorities have been warning for days that river waters would peak on Wednesday at a height of 9.4m.

But the Australian weather bureau said the Fitzroy River had stayed around 9.2m and slight drops in height would be seen from Thursday.

Rockhampton Mayor Brad Carter welcomed the news, saying "it looks like it may have stabilised".

The difference of 0.2m means some 400 homes in Rockhampton will be spared severe flood damage, and the only road into the city remains open.

However, the authorities said it was still too early to say the worst was over, with the weather bureau issuing a severe weather warning for flood-affected areas in the Fitzroy catchment.

The city's airport is closed. Supplies are currently being flown by military cargo plane to a town north of Rockhampton and taken on by road or barge.

Many of the city's historic buildings are being protected by piles of sandbags.

Mr Carter said residents had reported seeing snakes moving through the water looking for dry ground, and some saltwater crocodiles had also been spotted in the Fitzroy River.

"We do not think they are a risk to public safety if people keep out of the waters, but if people do enter the waters, their safety cannot be guaranteed," he told The Australian newspaper.

More than a week of heavy rain has created a huge inland sea across Queensland which is now draining towards the ocean along the state's river systems, leaving chaos in its wake.

Officials have said the flooded area is the size of France and Germany combined and 200,000 people have been affected. Ten deaths have been blamed on the floods since tropical storms began at the end of November.

South of Rockhampton, floodwaters are threatening St George where officials predict 80% of the town could be inundated next week.

Meteorologists have issued a severe thunderstorm warning for southern areas, saying "very heavy rainfall, flash flooding" were likely, with St George among the locations that could be affected.

Source with video report and flood map as of 5/1/11.
 

There is such an abundance of articles on this disaster right now I was overwhelmed with what to include, so I figured the BBC articles would be a good start. For further reading the Wikipedia page on the event may help, as will the ABC website, or Queensland's Courier Mail website.

 An area larger than the size of Texas (or the size of Germany and France combined) is underwater right now. Rain is continuing to fall in heavy amounts, and flooding is now occurring in the South-East corner of the state (Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Gold Coast etc.) and towards the border with New South Wales. If anyone is interested, a flood relief appeal has been set up by the Queensland Government that will be distributed/administered by the Red Cross. You can donate here. So far, 13 deaths have been attributed to the flooding.
Tags: australia, natural disaster
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