Thursday, January 13, 2011

2011 Brisbane Floods

I live in Brisbane, recently this city has been inundated with water, houses have been destroyed, people have lost their lives, businesses have been forced to close and supermarkets have limited supplies. But in spite of all this, the people of Queensland have come together in a remarkable way.

Torrential rain fell non-stop from Saturday-Wednesday this week giving us a years’ worth of rain and Flood waters were raised rapidly. Fortunately at the present time water has subsided dramatically and the strong Aussie sun has emerged.

In 1893 flood waters rose to an astonishing 8.2m, in 1974 flood waters rose to 5.45m and in 2011 the flood peak was 4.6m. A few days ago I drove to the swollen Brisbane River Bank. I saw pontoons float down the River with boats still attached, cars floating rapidly down the raging currents and humorously the restaurant on the water called ‘drift’ was literally drifting down the river.

Since the power and internet services have been cut for the time being this post might not be up until late January. I’ve been listening to the local flood radio station 111.6AM and to be honest, our local news reporters speak better than our PM Julia Gillard. Who repeats the same phrase about how tragic everything is. Don’t get me wrong this flood is absolutely devastating! However, our PM needs to now turn towards solutions and reassuring citizens that there will be help in the long process of recovery. In my opinion the Lord Mayor has done an excellent job at organising everything and he should be commended for his actions.

When you watch the Premier, the Mayor, the local families, news reporters and friends break down on television – It’s just – you can’t compare to actually standing there, amongst it all. When you watch your home town disrupted, watching debris scream down the waters, when you kayak over streets you had once played in, just watching places you go regularly completely submerged in water is just heart breaking and my heart really goes out to all the people who lost their homes or worse, their loved ones.

It’s really nice when you see places like America and the UK who are good friends with us Aussies say that they want to help out and are offering support. It’s nice that in the big world we live in people are still people and are so kind and generous.

It almost infuriates me that some people have commented local announcements with “Well everyone knows we have floods every fifty years or so, why isn’t anything being done to prevent things like this happening in the future?” My answer to this is simple, if there is a city that is prone to flooding you can do one of two things: Build Walls or relocate to higher ground. The problem with building walls is that: That will work for tidal floods, but here in Australia we live in drought 90% of the time and when it rains, it rains hard. Finally when it does rain, the walls will prevent the water from going anywhere and that will no doubt result in more disaster. Secondly, although relocating to higher ground sounds so simple, in Australia higher ground means hotter climate, are Australians to swap the beach for the heat? I highly doubt it. The thing is we have done numerous things to try and divert water. We have a second catchment which filled as it should and we have a massive underground tunnel that filled with water. Flood waters never hit higher that ’74 floods but we will continue to do small things like that to divert water elsewhere.

The fantastic thing about these floods is that it has brought people together, no one is blaming the Government for the floods, and no one is pointing fingers. Everyone is just getting the cleaning done and helping each other out. It’s tough but the good old Aussie spirit continues to lift spirits. It’s also nice that the people are seeing humour in things, for instance, the statue of Wally Lewis was armed with floaties, a snorkel and diving goggles. Little things like that are really just making a difference in seeing the positive side to things.

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