The flood peak looks to have finally made it here into Rockhampton city, and fortunately, it only made it to 9.2 metres. The expected peak was 9.4 metres and some of you may think that extra 20.3 centimetres may not be much, but that 20.3 centimetres means an awful lot to people with water lapping close to their floorboards, and those with belongings stacked just above the water level. That seemingly small amount of water, that extra 20.3 centimetres means that up to 100 homes will not have water flowing above the floor boards.
That peak has now slowly dropped to 9.15 metres, barely 5 centimetres. It is expected to stay at this 9.15 mark for a day or two, and then start, very very slowly to drop, and it will remain above 8.4 metres for about 10 days or so, before slowly dropping even further, so this is as I have always said, a slow-motion disaster, and right now, it’s just waiting, waiting, waiting for those people who hope to move back into flooded homes, when the heartbreak will be even further intensified for them.
This image shows a panorama of the flooding. You can make out the river flowing through the city at around centre screen, and all the inundation is in that area behind the built up area you can see here. The main affected area of flooded homes is close to the city on the left of the image on the far side of the river.
The main TV media all had crews here covering this disaster, from the main national broadcaster, as well as the three commercial majors. As you might expect, their focal point was the most obvious of all, that flood marker. At one time I visited, I counted four outside broadcast vans with all their stuff, leads taped across the ground and along the railing of the metal fencing to where they had set up a small tent without sides. The interview point always had that flood marker in the background, and the announcers talked to camera with the flood waters rushing by behind them.
Early on in the piece, long before the flood peak arrived, there was in fact some international reports about the flood that mainly mentioned the tragic deaths of a couple of people when their cars were washed off flooded roads. One major report mentioned in quite bold type that their was fear of crocodiles being washed into homes during the flood, giving the impression that it might be a fairly common thing.
Now I know full well that there are some salties (saltwater crocodiles) that are in fact close to the city here, and one place is near the two meat works on the north side of the river, and off towards the south a bit, and they will feed off the offal from these meat works on Lakes Creek Road. They may become a problem, but few people have mentioned it here locally. There was, however, one report of one croc being seen on a football oval on the south side.
So, while international media made bold headlines of the crocs, I might suggest that perhaps as few as a dozen people out of the 75,000 population here actually saw this crocodile, or for that fact any crocodiles at all.
The main media outlets here in Australia have also mentioned on more than one occasion the prevalence of snakes being washed down with the flood waters, and moving around near the city, and also in the flood waters as well. Australia has nearly all the top 10 of the deadliest and most poisonous snakes on Earth, and some of these are being washed down river with the flood, black snakes, and the deadlier brown snakes, of which there are many species of those two main types I have mentioned.
So, while the Australian media made bold headlines about the snakes, I would suggest that perhaps as few as a hundred or so people out of the 75,000 population may have actually seen this “huge influx” of snakes.
One thing that has barely been mentioned is the prevalence of one form of wildlife that actually is causing a major problem.
They are called sandflies or biting midges, or just midges. They are tiny blood sucking things, about the same size as a flea, and they are in almost plague proportions here now.
Sometimes, local residents who have lived her for long periods build up some sort of resistance to the bites, but others newer to the area or tourists tend to break out in sores following the bites, and I’m new here, only arriving in August just past.
So, while this has hardly garnered any comment in any section of the media at all, I would suggest that many thousands of that city population would actually be affected by this problem with the wildlife, and perhaps even more than that.
They bite on the lower extremities, close to the ground, and in the main, below the knees. You don’t even know you’ve been bitten in the first place, they are so small, and you can’t remember being bitten because you rarely if ever feel it. Then, a couple of hours later, the itching starts, and this is where the real problem sets in. The scratching can cause sores, naturally, and the sores then ulcerate. Children, especially younger ones would be the most affected, because they will just keep scratching. The itching can last for days and even weeks, and the ugly sores can hang around for a long time, and they remain itchy for most of that time.
I visited our local chemist when the problem came to me. It was a little embarrassing at first asking the young chemist about the problem, but she mentioned to me that just at the chemist outlet where she works, they were getting anything up to 15 cases a day being seen to, mainly in the mornings, so this is not an isolated thing, as this has been going on now for almost two weeks, now that the rising flood has stirred them.
Mostly creams and antihistamines are used to ease the itching, but it still comes down to willpower.
Don’t scratch! Don’t scratch! Don’t scratch!
Oddly, my good lady wife recommended to me something for relief that has drifted into the background with modern medicine, when she recommended what is now politely referred to as “an old wives’ tale”, the use of peroxide and calamine lotion (yes, that awful looking pink stuff).
I’m taking the antihistamine, but the calamine is soothing for the itching, and I can put up with having pink coloured lower limbs. As well as that, tea tree oil also helps out quite considerably.
What that visit to the chemist led to next was a visit to the supermarket to get some personal insect repellent, the stuff you either just spray on your skin, roll it on, or apply as a cream. Normally, supermarkets would have plenty of them.
However, in the major supermarket I visited, they had two shelves of nearly two metres on each shelf with about 12-15 different types of this repellent from several manufacturers. There was only one brand left, and of that one brand, only 6-7 bottles were left. As I reached for the bottle, my grand daughter said, “Uh, uh! Poppy, don’t get that one.”
It would seem everyone had the same idea. Sold out completely. They were even sold out of that “old wives’ tale” stuff, peroxide, so obviously that was still working as it always had, and in the space alongside that, even the calamine lotion was in short supply as well, with only a couple of bottles of that left.
Now to remember that “don’t scratch” mantra.
*Anton Lang (writing as TonyfromOz) is in flood affected Rockhampton
**An edited reprinted of a post from PA Pundits — International