Environment

Jan 11, 2011

‘Situation continues to deteriorate’: QLD floods

The death of four-year-old boy swept into the floods at Marburg during a rescue attempt of his family takes the latest flood death toll to ten, announced Premier Anna Bligh.

Amber Jamieson — Freelance journalist in New York

Amber Jamieson

Freelance journalist in New York

To read the latest Crikey liveblog on the Queensland floods, head here.

A torrent of water swept through Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley yesterday afternoon, devastating the region with flash flooding and leaving nine dead and 66 missing. Brisbane, Ipswich and surrounding areas are preparing for flood waters. Crikey will be updating this story tomorrow.

14 comments

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14 thoughts on “‘Situation continues to deteriorate’: QLD floods

  1. Tom McLoughlin

    At some stage after collective effort dealing with the immediate crisis, GIS database mapping will need to be compared with the 500K ha per year land clearing rates in Qld. Are they connected? I don’t know. But there will be experts somewhere who do. Anecdotally I expect the more vegetation layer and root systems the better the water retention over broad landscapes. As I say, after the crisis.

    Certainly in NSW in the 1994 bushfire crisis all sides of politics in the regions put such issues to one side while they dealt with the crisis and that obviously is the way to go.

    As for Bolt today on the gun tragedy in the USA – the man is a shallow boor.

  2. zut alors

    At West End, from my living room on the fifth floor of an apartment building, I’m watching the burgeoning Brisbane River as it races past at remarkable speed, logs and detritus being swiftly carried along.

    Naturally, all river traffic has ceased and part of this suburb along the river has been evacuated and/or closed off by emergency services. 32 suburbs have now been cited for evacuation. Not sure where all these evacuees will head as so many areas are impassable or at risk.

    The plan is to remain calm and keep my whiskers dry.

  3. Michael R James

    Zut, further downstream where I am (Teneriffe-between New Farm and Newstead; about 7km along the riverbank from Story Bridge, about 3km as crow flies) it is almost an hour past the reported high tide (high tide=1.30pm local time; 2.30pm summertime) but I would have to say that it doesn’t look as threatening as expected. About 15 mins ago it was about 1m below the riverwalk (on bank, not the part suspended over the water). I am not quite sure how tides work against an abnormally high-flowing river but perhaps there is a delay as the tide needs to build up to fight upstream?

    At any rate, the warnings of expectation of 2m above during daytime and 2.6m at the overnight high tide looks like we may escape most damage today. Tomorrow may be another matter entirely especially as the bulk of those massive downpours inland have yet to be felt.

    There are a few boats going downstream, heading for safety in Moreton Bay–notably one of the River Queens. But it seems most boat owners are not bothering.

    I reckon that the claim this is worse than 1974 does not hold up –so far. Obviously the levels are a long way off, but the rain we have had this month is not what I remember from back then. It was huge rain and relentless, much more than so far (though probably not comparable to that storm Toowoomba received). But of course I don’t think we are close to the worst point yet. Back then the Victoria Bridge was submerged at the Southbank side (and all of Southbank which is of course why it had never been properly built on, having just scrappy light industry until the Expo) but, incredibly they allowed pedestrians to walk out on it from the City side. When one looked down on the massive concrete pylon in the middle of the river, particularly on the downstream side where there was a giant void formed by the force of flow, one understood why this was the first Victoria Bridge (only a few years old at the time, replacing the old steel one) to survive a big flood.

  4. zut alors

    Michael RJ,

    Thanks for your assessment, it’s a comfort to hear from someone in a similar predicament.

    I’m opting to stay in my building (on the 5th floor) as, in the likelihood of the downstairs floors being flooded (and factoring in a power blackout), I have tinned food, water and grog (!) which should last for a week. This building was constructed in 1975, the ’74 flood level equalled the height of the first floor. All of my friends in Brisbane reside in other areas which are also being advised to evacuate so there’s nowhere to flee which presents a better risk.

  5. Michael R James

    Zut, I am on the top floor of one of the Woolstores–which must have seen quite a few floods in their >100 years lives. So I too will sit it out. Given the extra height of the floors in these buildings I think only the first (ground) floor should be affected, though McTaggarts, the only one right on the river, is the most vulnerable.

    I am heading out for another gander at the river but again the media (& politicians) seem to be exaggerating a tad. Nine news just said that the river had burst its banks here (Teneriffe) but I am pretty sure that is not true. (At the Teneriffe-Bulimba ferry jetty, it does LOOK like it has but in fact that is debris left stranded when it broke the banks there last week–perhaps it was a king tide; not by a lot and the ground there is a bit lower than the rest of the riverbank.) Those shots of the Southbank timber Riverwalk (next to Library & GOMA) are a tad misleading because it is clearly lower than the Riverwalk on solid ground, and quite a few metres lower than any of the Arts buildings. They do not show shots of the rest of Southbank which leads me to believe it is mostly ok, so far.

    The ABC said that the Breakfast Creek Pub is loading up its Pokie machines! Well, it is especially vulnerable because it is on the wrong side of the junction of Brekkie Creek and on the outside curve of the Brisbane river.

    Nine also went on about the heavy rain, though at the time the reporter was standing in only light rain. So again I make the comment that the rain (today and most of the past month) is not anything as heavy or relentless as I remember in 1974. Of course it is more important what happens upstream in the overall catchment area. With the next King tide due Friday week (21st) we have to hope the catchment empties enough for Wivenhoe to be emptied more so they can stop outflow for the King tide.

  6. John Inglis

    Thank you Amber for not using the word ‘inundated’.

  7. zut alors

    Michael RJ,

    The houses across the street from me (which are direct riverfront) have been either sandbagging or loading their cars in preparation for ‘doing a runner’. In the 12 years since I’ve lived here several longtime locals have wondered at the decision of those newcomers to invest so heavily in top-end property in such a vulnerable position.

    There have been pontoons floating down the river along with other large objects. It’s surreal.

  8. Michelle Edwards

    Thanks for compiling the comprehensive coverage into an informative one-stop-shop. Excellent.

  9. Michael R James

    OK, from when I began my last walk along the Teneriffe-New Farm Riverwalk almost 2 hours ago, I can definitively say that the river did NOT break its banks here. The level is at least one metre lower than at high tide. I am not convinced any Brisbane houses have been touched yet, other than those on the smaller creeks etc and which cop it anytime there are big rains. Everything the TV reports are showing of either Southbank/West End/City etc is of the lower river bank areas but unless there are small bits of lower areas of West End with houses, so far this is nothing like 1974.

    That doesn’t mean it won’t turn a lot worse, but my point is that it will have to be hugely worse than it currently is/was. I speak only of central Brisbane, not Cabulture which is a different river catchment system to the north. The official predictions seem hard to make sense of. They said that today it was about 2.1 m above some standard marker for Brisbane River and that it would be 2.6 m overnight (about 3am) since adjusted up to 3 m. On this basis they were recommending evacuation. But this still would not be enough to do much damage to this part of Brisbane, though Bulimba is more susceptible (but from what I could tell on my side of the river it did not have any breaching today). Just now they said it might reach 5.5 m, and that that would make it worse than ’74. At 3 m more than today I cannot see that.

    Ipswich is different because it is on the Bremer River which joins the Brisbane further downstream. It is the Brisbane R. that has its origins at the Somerset/Wivenhoe dams, so that the big difference between now and ’74 does little for Ipswich. It being further upstream on a small branch of the Brisbane makes it more vulnerable, as can be judged by those estimates of 22m of flood.

  10. zut alors

    Michael RJ,

    Thanks, I appreciate your man-on-the-spot reports. Am not looking forward to the power being cut!

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