Marg, I've been wondering about the floods.

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by DDD, Jan 8, 2011.

  1. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I haven't seen any post about them so I'm assuming your family is not having a hard time. Lordy, the coverage I've seen about other areas seems dire.

    Is there any improvement? DDD
  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I posted a bit more on the morning thread, including some pithy comments from my nephew, whose farm is in the path.

    I've been trying to find an easy way to describe the problem. You know how they say, "It never rains but it pours!"? Well, that's Australia for you. Either we're in drought, or we're in flood. In Queensland a lot of houses are built on stilts. That's so when this happens, the house itself is high and dry (hopefully). But increasingly people are building on the ground, plus these floods are record high and some of the stilt houses are getting inundated.

    If you think of the inland eastern part of Australia as large, flat and wide, with a network of river systems flowing through it heading south (and not to the coast for thousands of kilometres) then you can see that a lot of rain up north means the river system swells, and the flood slowly moves off downstream. Any more rain along the way jut adds to the problem. Also, more rain upstream - same problems. Some of the rivers do drain to the coast, and these drop the levels a bit faster. But many of the river systems drain into other rivers which drain into other rivers, so it all piles up.

    It's all a long way from us though. But the weather system that is causing this is affecting us, that's why the sea temperatures have been unpleasantly cool plus we've had a lot more rain than usual. It's how the La Nina impacts us here. We're in a wet patch, have been for the past six months or more. So we get flooding rains, where a year ago we had dustbowl drought.

    I mentioned Dorothea Mackellar's poem. Here is a link -

    It might help you understand why we take this sort of thing in our stride. No panic, no rushing here or there. We get warning of this (because the towns upstream go under, so they know downstream it will happen). And we deal with it.

    husband was just saying (he's been lurking on his own laptop and been following other posts on this) that in the news tonight they said that an area larger than our state of NSW is currently underwater. NSW is bigger than Texas, I believe.
    NSW total area - 802 000 km2, over 10% of Australia's area in total. So over 10% of Australia is currently underwater.

    Texas area - 678,354 km2.

    So this means - yes, the floods are bad. But the Marg household is very close to the coast which means floods here in our village rapidly flow out to sea and drain off. We don't get metres-high floods here. We do get high seas sometimes and houses lower in the village can get swamped. But our waterfront beaches are somewhat sheltered, so we don't get pounding surf washing away foundations.

    We get floodbound, but that is because we have a causeway to cross in our drive to the mainland, and when the rains upstream have been heavy, then the causeway floods.

    Because of our understanding of our river systems, these floods are not a surprise. We get plenty of warning and the towns announce the expected height of the flood peak and have management plans in place, always. There are a lot of people who have been homeless since before Christmas. When the floods recede they will go back to clean up.

    Our agricultural systems are suffering though. A lot of produce just can't get shipped out and down south to the markets. We're running low on good fruit, especially our summer fruits such as mangoes and bananas. Other fruit, also grown inland in some of our river system areas, have had crop failure on a large scale. Cherries, for example. Most of the crop was lost because the fruit split in the heavy pre-Christmas rains. And now with roads cut, what is left can't be shipped. So on that score, we are all being impacted by the floods. As the floods move south we will see more of these market problems, but with vegetables.

    Our governments will be putting in effective financial support as well as practical support.

    Another problem - it is cyclone season up north also. Add a cyclone or two to this mix and the people up there have even more problems. They can't be forecast so accurately.

    It's a tough time for these people. Australia has weathered the GFC quite well, but this is taking our security buffers to the limit. This is going to affect our economy.

    Thanks for asking, though.

  3. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the explanation and the reassurance that your family is not directly impacted. I suppose that worldwide regions get used to their issues. I've always been amazed that so many people live on or near faults in California as the thought of an earthquake scares me to death. Tornado regions have my sympathies. Areas that flood regularly where residents rebuild their homes on the same low lying site baffles me. on the other hand we always have to keep hurricanes in mind during the season.
    Guess human beings are resilient no matter where they live. Personally, though, I'm always relieved that our CD family members usually escape harm. DDD
  4. Marg's Man

    Marg's Man Member

    DDD you said
    Me too. I was born out where those floods are now but we moved over Sydney way while I was very young. When I was about six my parents went to look at the floods at a town about 15 miles from our then home. The town is in a river valley about two miles wide and runs to the sea along a 40 mile course. It was full to a depth about 6 metres(20 feet) over the road, itself about 6 metres above the normal river level. The flood markers, which give depths above normal river levels, were under water themselves; they only showed to 15 feet then; these days they show to 15 metres.

    The sight of that sea of brown water ( by the standards fo these floods it was tiny) affected me.

    Jump forward twenty years and Marg & I are looking for somewhere to set up our home. We saw a cheap block of land in the village we now live in and went to for a look. I saw it was on a potential flood site and refused point blank to even consider it. So we went to the local real estate agent and bought the block we eventually built our present home on.

    It has a nice outlook but not great views. It DOES have one perfect feature though - only a MAJOR tsunami will ever flood it!

    Marg's Man
  5. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I can only imagine the impact that had on a youngster. Glad you guys are safely placed.

    In addition to the baffling choices made by "repeaters", I honestly can't believe that the insurance companies would sell home owners policies to people who opt to live in future disaster zones. Along the banks of the Atlantic and Gulf there are very very expensive (often vacation) homes that get blown to bits by hurricanes etc. The people rebuild and the insurance companies insure the properties. Does that make sense? Not to me.

    by the way, nice to meet you. :) DDD
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    husband & I are both country kids, although we both grew up in the outskirts of Sydney.

    Insurance companies here either charge more for buildings in a flood zone, or refuse to insure them. In these areas people are still encouraged to build on stilts. There are a lot of advantages, not the least of which is the house is cool in hot weather. These current floods are much bigger than usual, which is why they're making news. A lot of these towns have levee banks which they've had time to reinforce when news of the floods upstream became known. But even some of these levees are just not enough.

    Interestingly, my nephew (who I quoted) used to work in one of these towns built on the alluvial plans of one of these large inland rivers. He's complaining now, but if he still lived there, everything would be underwater. Where he lives now, part of his property i on low ground, so he has to move his stock when it floods. But as the flood receded, the silt and heavy watering it all got, will make the pasture very lush indeed. That's why these people always return - bumper crops 9 years out of 10, followed by a 10 year flood - it's worth the inconvenience. As he said, last year he was buying water.

    My elder brother lives in Queensland and now lives halfway up a mountain, so he is safe from the floods. He used to live on the flood plain but was lucky to never have his house get inundated. I think one flood that covered his lawn scared him enough to move.

    These inland country towns are generally very dry places, and being near the river is the only way usually to get any water to your property. It's either feast or famine, here.