This afternoon, we closed our office and cancelled any outstanding appointments as our building was quietly evacuated because of the threatening flood waters. As I drove out of the doctors’ car park, I was confronted with streets flooded with water and after a tentative attempt to drive through it I turned around and hoping that the car would not stall; I drove along the footpath which was higher and returned to the car park.
I then drove it to the highest level and went back and told my wife who was finishing consulting. No one had realised how bad things had become and we still had some patients in the waiting rooms. We sent all our staff home in the hope they would be able to get home in time before nightfall. The water had risen so quickly and the main road outside was in the process of being closed as it runs parallel to the Brisbane River.
I am not one to become frightened easily as I have been in war zones as a soldier but today I had a genuine concern for our safety and thought of our children at home and my daughter who lives in a river-side suburb which can flood.
On the way home near the hospital, road were closed with the flashing blue lights of police cars blocking off roads that were lakes.
After a few detours we managed to get onto the main road home which was still clear although water was lapping the verge and we knew that the high tide was not yet here. We drove along a main road along the river a few miles downstream from the hospital and noticed the surging river with logs and debris rushing past.
When we got to our suburb which is on high ground we went to a supermarket where there were long queues of people lining up with trolleys full of provisions. My wife and I headed straight for the tins of Italian tomatoes and pasta and as well as baker’s flour and packets of yeast while most were buying “normal” stuff. We had a giggle as we know how to survive on the basics.
So far nine have drowned including 4 children and over 70 people are missing in SE Queensland. Even brick houses have been washed away. This is proving to be a bigger flood than the big one in 1974 and rivalling the “big wet” in the 1890′s.
This is an unprecedented natural disaster. Regardless of who you are and where you live in Queensland, it is touching everyone.
There will be some very high tides in the next few days and people are expecting the worst. The central business district has been closed and even our hospital has cancelled all elective work. I don’t know how many nurses and doctors will get to work.
Many doctors’ surgeries have gone under. And this is just the beginning. The area underwater is bigger than France.
I awoke this Wednesday morning to an eerie silence. The arterial road not far from us was deserted. It was like Good Friday and for some, their Golgotha has come. I then heard the distinctive sound of a Black Hawk overhead. Its rotors sound different from the “chocka-chocka” of Iroquois which I used to go in on Army Exercises. The RAAF are sending in C130′s (Hercules) and but the Army was unable to get to flood victims in the Lockyer Valley west of Brisbane as even their high wheeled trucks were not up to it. It was over to the helicopters.
We are thankfully still dry and we have our daughter and partner staying with us as they moved out of their flat which may be by now underwater. As university students all they managed to save were their laptops and a few clothes, so this is touching all of us. We thought of the contents of their fridge as there will be no power. Fortunately they had only a few slices of ham in it. Meat a week old can devastate a fridge. It has happened to us before. You never get the smell out.
I have been through cyclones before but flooding gives a different feel with the water rising silently and spreading as an insidious force like something in a science-fiction movie.
The next few days will be critical as the “modelling” of the hydrologists predict that the waters will be at their highest.
Another helicopter passes overhead. The media now talk of helicopter “assets” as our leaders now speak the double-talk of “jargonese” and “economic collateral damage” as if we can reduce human misery to a profit and loss statement as reporters ask the PM whether this will affect the government’s projected return to “surplus” by 2013. We have descended into the banality of reporters and politicians; a flood of media verbosity, and constant prattle while the world goes on.
After the “Big One” in 1974 they built the Wivenhoe dam in the foothills to the north-west of Brisbane to mitigate against the risk of flooding. However, since then people have forgotten and a new generation has grown up; Generation “What Flood?”. Houses have been built in lower-lying areas as people felt sure that the “100 year flood”, the event which insurance companies and city councils allow for, would not occur on their watch. There was money to be made in real estate in this primaeval flood plain of the Brisbane River we call greater Brisbane.
After the recent seven year drought when the dams were nearly empty, they are now brimming over but ironically we are still on water restrictions (no sprinklers!). Over the past few days Wivenhoe Dam has been taking in the equivalent in volume of twice that of Sydney Harbour. To avert disaster (a breached dam), the water authorities have released water “in a controlled way” into the Brisbane River but in such a way as not to coincide with the high tide as the river is tidal all the way up to Ipswich about fifty miles upstream; more ice bergs to the sinking Titanic.
There is an air of unreality at our place a bit like being in the bunker at the Reichstag in Berlin in 1945 while a battle rages outside. We watch the television and see our mayor giving us the low down on stuff like how many thousand streets are underwater and how many thousand businesses are…. Then we cross over a reporter with lip gloss poking a black microphone in some hagged bloke’s face, asking him how he felt when he was inside his house with his wife and kids as it was ripped off its stumps and became a boat rushing for half a mile before a 20 foot wall of water and the floor boards lifting with the pressure as they are not designed as a hull….more questions…”and what were you thinking at the time…was it scary….” and so it goes on, such is the genre of reporters’ rhetorical questions before we cross over for the latest update from the MET (Bureau of Meteorology) which is a form of modern astrology based on portents from meteors, Star’s of Bethlehem. They gave us no warning when I went to work yesterday morning that by lunchtime my hospital was on Orange Alert and that our medical suites would need evacuation but I suppose none of the fiscal Magi picked the signs of the impending implosion from the GFC in the sky above Wall Street.
Another helicopter flies over…a Squirrel.
We drive into New Farm, an inner city suburb to see if my daughter’s flat is under water. Her partner comes with me as she is at work.
We find a street cordoned off and police cars and blue and white tape across the road. I count five policemen doing squat all as far as I can see apart from chatting with the locals about “the water”. Surely they could do it with maybe one or two cops?
We do a detour and find that her flat is dry still. Then we gathered up armfuls of clothes and the accoutrements of domesticity into the back of my 4×4. We empty the fridge of things which could stink if the power dies. I unplug plugs and raise things off the floor to a new high water level realising that if it goes “pear-shaped” that book cases and tables will float and spill their contents. It is a sort of moral statement; the triumph of optimism, human spirit and chance above chaos, “shit happening” and the whim of the River Spirit.
The sun has come out temporarily bringing a sense of surrealism to the city. I see people leaving shops with white plastic bags laden with essentials. A post-man is delivering the mail on his scooter and when we get home the garbage has been collected. “Normalcy” at last or the quiet of the “Phony War”. The next few days will tell.
A patient rings me on my mobile. He has an appointment today and has flown down 1000 miles from Townsville to see me. He is staying across the road from the hospital. I give him some advice and tell him to sit it out for a few days…
The State Premier, Anna Bligh, we call Captain Bligh is on ABC TV again surrounded by expressionless “heavies”; the State Emergency Service Minister, the Police Commissioner in light blue shirt and dark blue epaulettes, the mayor and then we cross to the PM, Julia Gillard. Both women look drawn as they respond to the moronic questions of reporters wanting air time and asking the usual questions of which no one knows the answers…God knows…
The flies have been bad presumably because of rotting debris and the sodden earth like the Plagues of Egypt. I suppose a few million sheep and cattle would be a factor and no doubt when the water has subsided there will be some grizzly findings in flood-ravaged cars.
Entomologists in the local paper explain the plague of spiders and insects washed from their burrows while snakes and other animals fight for their lives too. A farmer describes a small dry plot of land on his property where animals have found a sanctuary where wild dingoes coexist with kangaroos, wallabies and sheep in an unscripted truce until the flood waters subside; the lion with the lamb.
Yachts and pontoons have been wrenched from their moorings and swept down the river like dead leaves in a storm water drain. On the Hamilton Reach near my home I see the fin of a yacht and can’t make out whether it is the hull or a rudder. As it is stationery I assume that the boat is still at anchor although submerged. Debris accumulating around anchor chains acts as the final straw until the boat breaks loose or goes under from perforate hulls from collisions with logs, errant pontoons or shipping containers.
And so we wait. I made bread last night and we have plenty of provisions. I filled up three jerry cans with water as we have been warned that if the power goes, so does the water. I ring my mother and tell her to fill her bath and laundry tubs. She acquiesces and tells me she doubts it will get to this. However, we just don’t know. I see how fragile modern society it with its reliance on power, water, and food supply from third parties. We don’t have a well and would not survive on our current vegetable garden. It has been too wet. Armageddon is really only a few meals away for most. And that is why we have compost bin and cake bake bread and live on basics but even this, in the long run, is not enough. Perhaps such catastrophes are salient lessons for us all.
One of my two secretaries sent me a text this afternoon saying that they had to evacuate their house which has water lapping the gutters of her roof. She had broken her arm last week which gives being in a POP cast new dimension. If only she had two good arms. She got only a few things out.
In a street in Ipswich, some neighbours saw a bull shark swimming in their flooded street.
In Brisbane, in the last few days 190,000 sand bags have been used and 80,000 since last night.
A long floating river walk pontoon in the inner city is posing a serious safety risk as it is threatening to rise up over the pylons and come loose. The mayor is ordering its scuttling lest it wreck boats and other structures downstream. They would weigh hundreds of tons.
A ferry is holding on with only one mooring line as men work to secure it as the river rises inexorably over the next 36 hours.
The radio is on 24/7 as we get updates. In many areas the power has been turned off. The bus services are being ceased and the main inner city free way I came home on yesterday is now cut. The inner city business area is now a ghost town as many places go under and most of the bridges have been closed. About 250, 000 people are without power including 60,000 in the inner city. Last time this happened a lot of people were electrocuted when they returned to their homes.
Electricity substations have been turned off as rising water would cause explosions.
Raw sewerage is now getting into the flood water as sewerage plants go under and sewers are flooded. Our garbage has not been collected as I had thought. We are told to sandbag our toilets and drains e.g. in showers to prevent sewerage coming back up. People are being assisted in halls and churches all over the city. It is to be one all mighty sleep over.
Society in crisis. We have a Volunteer Help Line which is being overwhelmed with offers of assistance.
More helicopters pass over. God bless the ADF.
I saw our former PM, The Hon Kevin Rudd walking through flooded streets carrying bags on his head belonging to people in his electorate whose streets were going under. He had been doing this since late last night. This was no media stunt. He even got the TV interviewer to pitch in and give a hand.
I went down to the river this evening at 1800 hrs to see what was happening. Indeed I had gone to return some library books and was amazed that the librarians were still there, 100 yards from the river and had sandbagged the library and put plastic over all the air vents in the wall on the building. They seemed calm and resolute. I checked in my audio books and asked for an extension on two.
Across the road was a bistro full of people eating and drinking while in all the shops next door and down the street there were sandbags against their walls and door. It was surreal like the last day in Pompeii.
I walked down to the river where there is usually a busy arterial road which parallels its banks. It was silent and the police had cordoned off the road to traffic. Sight seers were walking to see the river which was an awesome sight of swirling brown with trees passing, then a pontoon, and then a large blue tarpaulin covering what was probably a boat. Its sullen power was frightening.
A riverside seafood restaurant was closed, its margins lined with sandbags. There was almost a carnival atmosphere for a Wednesday but people only spoke with hushed voices and no one was laughing.
When I first got there I noticed than the tide was rushing in along the shallower water along the stone embankment but the current was rushing downstream in the deeper water. It was a mix of vectors with both tide and current deciding the fate of men and women in its path.
This surpasses the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans but the support services are doing us proud. We are doing well.
Thursday 13 Jan 11
We awoke this morning to sunny sky notwithstanding gathering rain clouds. The river had peaked on the high tide at 0400 at about 4.5 metres which is the height above sea level. There was a slight sigh of relief as it was not quite as high as expected, for each metre means a few thousand more houses, more businesses and more disruption. It is a hydrologist’s statistic with “flow on” implications.
We still don’t know whether my daughter’s place went under as we can’t get to it. However, the riverside suburb of New Farm was one of the worst hit. We expect the worst. She is going to London with her partner in two weeks. At least we got out their winter clothes and shoes and they are safe.
I watched the morning television to see that a hundred metres of the city walk pontoon had been wrenched from its mooring and was floating down the river. There are all sorts of things heading down stream. Someone’s pontoon with chairs still standing on it, as if time has frozen a once tranquil vista of life by the river.
The port has been closed until they can survey the river and those with boats have been told to keep avoid the water as there are so many navigation hazards. I was going in a sailing race from the southern end of the bay at Southport to Brisbane next weekend but I fear that sailing into the night may be foolish with so much debris around. As there are about 100 boats in the race, it will be interesting to see if common sense prevails for this year’s “Surf to City”.
A riverside beer garden on a barge which was once a large vehicular ferry has come adrift. Bridges have been threatened as debris hits their cut waters and most have been closed.
Over 120,000 houses are without power which was cut off on purpose for safety reasons. The reservoirs in the hills of Brisbane, although full need power to pump more water to them. There are a few days worth of water in them we have been told to conserve water until the crisis has passed as there will be a massive need for water when the clean-up starts. Our bath is still full of water for drinking just in case.
The Wesley Hospital where I work is surrounded by water as it is on a hill less than 100 yards from the river. The only access is by a pedestrian bridge from the station next door. I wonder how staff can get there to work as we lucky ones who are dry are marooned on our suburban islands of hilly suburbs while just down the road muddy waters lurk. Brisbane has about seventy hills a bit like Rome only more. Luckily, as I only returned from vacation on Monday, I have only one patient in hospital and he is also under an oncologist who is seeing him. I would be a drama queen to try to see him.
I turn the pages of our paper, The Courier Mail to see the faces of men, women and children who have perished. I read their tragic stories. A four year old boy washed away during a rescue, his parents surviving.
There are still a lot missing and unaccounted for. 13 dead so far, about 50 more somewhere. There is a photo of a woman waist deep in the flood waters carrying a tray of fruit cake serving people in a conga line of workers passing things salvaged from shops and houses in Rosalie, a suburb near the Wesley.
There were some nice things said about Kevin Rudd and his genuine and tireless efforts in his electorate. He is now our Foreign Minister and it is good to see people leading from the front, up to their waist in water and talking about the need for everyone to pitch in, for bipartisanship in government, and the need for coordinated plans for recovery and reconstruction. This will cost tens of billions not to mention the human cost.
Now we can only sit and wait. The flood waters will remain high all day today. There is still an air of unreality for those who are “unaffected”. Somehow, it almost feels unfair not to have suffered more; “flood guilt” or is it “survivor guilt”? I can now understand how those in war feel when they see others go down when they remain untouched.
The land lines are not responding so we don’t try the phone. Even the mobile net yesterday was overloaded so we only text and have been told to use phones only sparingly. The Internet went down too last night just after I posted to doc2doc. Sort of dramatic in a way to be deprived of these things we take for granted.
There are many tales of neighbours and strangers working tirelessly to help one another. That is what is so wonderful about humanity when push comes to shove. I feel proud to be a Queenslander for as in our rugby match, The State of Origin Series against NSW, the maroon jersey means we fight until the final whistle.
There is a photo of a railway bridge in the Lockyer Valley at Grantham where 30 cars are piled up against it, revealed by the falling flood waters. The ABC interviewer ironically is Paul Lockyer. They suspect that many will have bodies in them. At this place, one young woman managed to get onto the bonnet of her car as it was swept headlong towards the bridge. A man seeing this waded out into the torrent to help. She jumped off just before the car was sucked under and landed in his arms. Many, he said laconically, were not so lucky.
There is an air of cohesion in the place; neither panic nor despair. I have not heard anyone grumble and all over town there are refuges set up by the Red Cross, Salvation Army and social agencies, each to house a thousand people give or take a few. People were warned not to forget their medications when they evacuate especially diabetics. There are scenes of young people in these places playing Monopoly or cards while the displaced elderly eat with plastic knives and forks while other people sleep on a sea of mattresses across the varnished floor of a sports centre; sleep a brief reprieve from what the flood has taken from them.
I see on the MET forecast this morning the rain fall totals. I have a cottage in the hills north of Brisbane at Maleny. This month, in the last 12 days they have had 792mm rain. No wonder our rivers are swollen. The rain is now falling heavily in South Australia and NW Victoria and Northern New South Wales. This is an area as large as Europe.
My daughter has gone to work again this morning at the local Clayfield Market, a fruit and vegetable market which is one of the few places in town with any fresh produce. She unwittingly has become an Essential Service according to the Mayor. As a doctor, I am not needed.
When I went to pick her up last night after work, many of the shelves were bare. A semi-trailer-load of fresh produce has been consigned from Sydney, 1000 km south but as many of the rivers in Northern NSW are flooded, we don’t know if it will get through. So far, it appears it can’t get through.
Our markets at the suburb of Rocklea are now a lake and our CBD (Central Business District) deserted. Most of the inner city freeways are cut too. Ironically, the new Clem7 Tunnel under the river is still open. The M1 freeway which goes past the iconic Breakfast Creek Hotel is underwater and the hotel has been inundated as in the last flood. (There is a drawing of this lovely French Renaissance style hotel in my book).
My son, who is 14, is excited as there has been another sighting of a bull shark in a suburban street. These are aggressive sharks which attack and attack. He has an encyclopaedic fascination with sharks and I never argue with him on this topic. It seems funny to think these brutes are swimming where a few days ago the postman did his run.
ABC TV last night interviewed the manager of a well-known Brisbane hotel near the river, just near our botanical gardens. They had sensibly instituted a flood plan as they had been through it in ’74. We are not called the River City for nothing.
He was composed and showed the swimming pool which was full of pool furniture and desk chairs lest the torrent sweep them away and become a hazard to others. In the lobby was the long expanse of new carpet still untouched and the wood panelling and the concierge’s desk and half way up the wall, a graphic line showing where the water came up to in 1974.
…the calm before the storm.
You may be becoming bored with this account of the flood. In a way, I am too. We want to get back to work, but my hospital is an island. I am not used to sitting around on weekdays while the world is in standstill mode but for many it has crumbled before their eyes like prized sandcastles washed away by the surge of a rising tide.
Friday 14 Jan 11
Although it is sunny today, I still can’t get to the Wesley Hospital as the main roads are cut. The river is going down slowly and houses are emerging but I can’t move.
An email from my one of my secretaries forwarded from the other who has lost her house, tells me she has been able to go back in to assess the damage. The ceilings have caved in and all the walls are buckled. It will all have to be stripped out.
As the flood waters rose, her husband let all his homing pigeons go and locked the cage door lest they return and drown. Some neighbours took care of their chooks and chocolate Labradors which she breeds.
Where do you start when you return? Electricians have to certify that the house is safe after the power has been restored to the area. She will live in a caravan in the backyard while her house is fixed. It will be a long stay. The police arrested a few looters in her street but by and large this sort of behaviour is an aberration. There will always be “low lives” in any society; parasites on the back of the noble elephant.
Yesterday, 150 metres of concrete and steel pontoon riverside walk way broke loose and headed down stream threatening the Gateway Bridge which is a huge bridge about 100 metres above the river not far from the port. Seeing this, two private tug boat skippers in their mid sixties, got in their 40 year old tug boat, Mavis, and with considerable courage and skill, shepherded the massive structure under the bridge by making it float parallel to the pylons and then deposited on at Nudgee Beach just to the north of the mouth. This was not done at the instigation of the authorities but by the demands of insight and common sense. There was also a marina just below the bridge full of yachts and boats. If it had hit this, there would have been chaos. These men have done something heroic but they were quite surprised at the fuss being made of their actions.
Another email yesterday; the QCYC Marina on Cabbage Tree Creek has so much debris that a working bee has been organised for tomorrow. We are asked to bring chain saws, wheel barrows, axes etc. It is a job for sailor boys.
Another walkway pontoon was scuttled yesterday with explosive charges as it also was a threat if it broke loose.
We met with friends last night and ate out at a cheap Thai Restaurant which was opened for business as it was not affected by the floods. All our friends there shared a feeling of agitation during this time. I listened to ABC radio most of the time as the drama unfolded. Both my wife and I could not settle as there is so much misery going on about us. You start to resonate with the sorrow. We feel we would like to help but until the flood passes, it is not yet time. Perhaps it is why I am writing this post to you all. Please forgive me.
This reminds me of what it must have been like on the Eastern Front in WW2 as the distance is large. To the north 400 miles away on the coast, Rockhampton is underwater, and between us and them, Bundaberg and Gympie and to the west of the Great Divide, a few hundred miles west (I still like miles), the town of Goondiwindi has been evacuated along with the hospital as the townsfolk wait at the evacuation point at the show grounds while the McIntyre River creeps ever upwards on the levy which is 11 metres high. The water is now only a hand span width below the top of the levy as we wait by our radios to hear. These towns may seem remote to you, but I know GP’s in these areas and patients who come down to see me and I think of the man I see who is on a wheat and sheep property outside Goondiwindi and whether he and his wife are all right. Last time I saw him he recounted carry sheep in his car to higher ground.
The water in the rivers west of the Great Divide all head south-west eventually to the Darling which later joins the Murray to empty at Lake Alexandrina and then into the Southern Ocean near the South Australian border. So vast are the distances that it will take 6-8 weeks for the Queensland flood waters to reach the sea.
We still don’t know if my daughter’s flat has survived. We are waiting to hear if the roads are open.
I had an email from the Maritime Museum yesterday that the replica Dutch caravel, the Duyfken (Dove) moored there was still intact and floating and the WW2 corvette, HMAS Diamantina which was in dry dock was now floating. One man had stayed up all night adjusting mooring lines as the ship rose. The old lighthouse ship alas had sunk and the steam tug, Forceful was OK.
As I am self-employed, the impact of this flood will affect us as well even though we escaped unscathed. The aftermath of flood will be considerable social dislocation, financial ruin for many, physical and mental illness.
Soon the restless mass media, like industrious honey bees, will go off in search of the next newsworthy disaster, leaving unwritten and untelevised, the small print of devastation in the lives of men and women. There will be wrangles with insurance companies, the problems of insolvency, unpaid bills, how and where to get tradesmen, quotes and building material, the problems of cars which have been flood damaged and whatever became of my carrier pigeons?
Sure, the governance of this disaster has been commendable and the social agencies are coming in to help with financial support and the ADF has been mobilised to help clean up and look for missing people and so it goes on…
I think of two patients with lung cancer I had diagnosed just before Christmas and whom I was going to start on treatment this week. Even cancer has to wait….
For those of you who have read this post, I thank you. I wrote to tell you, not so much of my tale, but of how a natural disaster affects a community. This is not Haiti or Pakistan but in a way it is. It is like a war when the only war you see is how it affects you or for a soldier, at the level of a section of seven or ten men and not on the grand scale of an Army Group of a million men as in Russia in WW2. Only a historian or government supremo can see it in this scale.
My wife who is a psychiatrists will no doubt see patients downstream from this event as will I; depressed and anxious patients, those who have witnessed grizzly scenes of decaying bodies or a limp body of a dead child or lost loved ones who are never found along with all their worldly possessions or how their pets were carried away. Only yesterday a man in Brisbane was sucked down a storm water drain when he went to help his elderly father.
The country people are tough here but their support services less than that of “city-slickers”. As most farmers were reeling from the effect of seven years of drought, I fear that for some, this flood will be the end. Some will blow their brains out but most will be OK.
However, on an optimistic note, human resilience and the life force is something to be wondered at and life will for most, will soon resume some level of normality. Those who have experience the 2011 flood, this January will remain both dark and wide among the annual tree rings of their lives.
Sunday, 16th January
I read in the paper of the dead and missing. There have been five cases of melioidosis since the flood; mostly from Rockhampton 400 miles north as this organism lives in the soil and is a common cause of pneumonia in the tropics. I once wrote an article about this in a French journal. There have been Flavi virus infections which the paper says includes Kunjin virus (apparently a local version of West Nile Fever) and other forms of encephalitis. Murray Valley encephalitis was the first encephalitis where a virus was isolated. I am sure that arboviruses will flourish with the stagnant water everywhere, ideal for mosquitoes and insects. Our Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd had to go to hospital with an infected cut. Bacteria do not discriminate between the legs of politicians or plebeians. He has valvular heart disease which may be another consideration.
I read in the paper (Courier Mail) of a system called the Walker Circulation which brings easterly air currents from South America and hence warm moist air. The whole world’s weather is governed by a phenomenon called Rossby Waves which are both atmospheric eg in the jet stream and deep oceanic currents due to the spinning of the earth, shear stresses and the Coriolis effect. We are in reality all clinging onto a giant wobbling spinning top and live in side a gigantic cosmic kitchen blender. It is not surprising therefore to see that Brazil and Australia are connected and even Africa through the same flow-on effect in the Indian Ocean viz. Sri Lanka. The weather is also affected by sunspot activity and solar wind and more. Do you know that the annual background radiation from solar gamma rays is equivalent to 100 chest radiographs (2 mSv/annum and one radiograph is 0.02 mSv). Why the La Niña dances so methodically with El Niño I think is still in the realm of the semi-unknown. I’ll leave it to the boffins.
Whatever the reason, it shows the fragility of human existence and how homes with “riverside frontages” or “ocean views” are somewhat limited in long-term vision. Since human habitation of Australia, Brisbane’s Moreton Bay has been a dry paddock several times and the same with the North Sea. The perspective of modern men and real estate agents as well as global warming pundits tend to be a little meiopic.
I hope to bore you no more about floods and the state of the world. The world resumes on Monday.
Monday, 17th Jan.
50,000 volunteers worked all weekend in Brisbane where so far 30,000 tons of debris and flood damaged material has been moved.
The Premier tells us that 500,000 square km of Queensland is flooded.
A former disaster worker arranges the shipment of 1500 gum boots by QANTAS and Toll Freight free of charge from New Zealand. We have run out of gum boots.
20,000 homes are still without power.
I resume work this morning not knowing how many patients will turn up. The roads are in a bad way and one main road is a concern as it could fall into the river as in the last flood.
Yesterday I went on a bike ride with my son along the muddy river where we found a 30 foot yacht by the bank, unsecured, wedged into some errant pontoons and debris. I called the Water Police as it needed to be taken to a safe mooring. Another yacht at a mooring looked a sorry sight.. as if it had sailed around the world without a stop. Mine sweepers are surveying the bay and river still.
Another body has been found; 18 so far which is small compared with Brazil. There are about as many still missing. An infirm old lady was found dead in her house as she was unable to get out in time.
We see the plight of Brazil… they are doing it tough. All the same stuff but there’s is more to do with terrible mudslides which have wiped out whole villages and with disastrous loss of life.
There is more flooding in Victoria another world away to the south. It is their worst flooding ever. Says something about global warming??
The two cyclones off the coast seem to be less of a threat now as they are well out to sea.
Tuesday, 18th Jan 11.
In my book, Ballina Boy, I describe such flooding which occurred in Australia between 1954-6. One night we had 13 inches of rain. These things are cyclical (La Niña) and I feel that the global warming zealots sometimes overlook cyclical events and also long-term events of geological time scales.
Senator Bob Brown, our Greens Senator has just blamed our coal industry for this disaster which is a bit like blaming the iron ore producers which made the Titanic for its sinking. It is not so simple and his message went over like a lead balloon. This does no credit to their cause and he even suggested that the coal industry pay for the some of the damage.
I have been asked to talk on ABC Radio today on the dangers of asbestos in the flood clean-up. This is a tricky one.
The city and state is bouncing back quickly. Our markets which were under 3 metres of water last week are now operational. The amount of rubbish being taken away in big trucks is staggering.
We learn today that during the flood, the Brisbane River was taking away an excess 9,500 cubic metres/second but it would have been 13,000 without the dams. The Wivenhoe Dam was taking it its whole capacity daily at the height of the flooding and it had to be released to prevent catastrophe. Last year we were on water restrictions.
Yesterday we had our hottest day for a year (33 degrees C) which is very unusual for Brisbane. It has been an unusually cool 12 months which may be linked with your cold winter?