New flood catastrophe

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Marguerite, Jan 10, 2011.

  1. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I know I may have seemed a bit blase about the floods here. We are accustomed to flooding in these areas. The people are used to it, they plan their lives around the floods/droughts as best they can.

    These are bad. We knew that. As I said the other day, the area of Queensland underwater is larger than Texas. About 50% larger.

    Well, yesterday it got nastier. Didn't think that was possible, with all the emergency services in place, plus all the warnings and reports, all the information flying around.

    Many people missing, 72 at the moment. Eight people confirmed dead, likely to rise a lot higher. Just form yesterday's "inland tsunami". A wall of water, that is a wall of water ON TOP OF THE FLOOD slammed into the town of Toowoomba. Houses got slammed off their foundations, that is where the missing people were. One woman told of what happened to her shop, based on what she was told. She hasn't seen it for herself yet - the water slammed into the front window, smashed it, continued through her store and swept absolutely everything out the back wall which disappeared before the flood. Wham! Gone.

    The rescue people get angry with fools who take risks by driving into running water and then get swept away. The rescue people have to risk their lives to save these idiots. But the people swept away in this torrent were not taking risks.

    It was very localised - one woman reported that she saw it happen, was able to have a cup of coffee while she watched. Nothing she could do...

    There are whole houses floating downstream, they say. Bizarre.

    Australia is a flat country. So a flood this big is spread out over a large area. The ground is sodden, waterlogged. It has been drought for years before this, a dustbowl. Now it's underwater. But the rain is still continuing.

    The floods are continuing downstream. Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, is right in the path of this one. It is a coastal city which will dissipate some of this flood, but when the flood coincides with high tide, Brisbane goes under. The Toowoomba torrent will reach Brisbane. They're on alert, people are being moved.

    Breaking news - 50 of the missing people have been found sheltering in a hall. Not confirmed.

    Downstream further, and also under the same weather system - northern NSW. Rivers have been cut on and off for months because of this weird weather pattern and now more rain is forecast there too. It's not the same water, on the coastal strip of northern NSW. It's the same rain pattern.

    We have a wedding to go to up there in March. I'm beginning to wonder if the water will be down by then. I'm not kidding.

    What caused the wall of water? Massive downpour, unthinkable amounts of rain. In a part of the country where rain is normally measured in a few inches, they got a foot of rain in an hour. Then when you get two river systems joining, you get two floods meeting. I'm not sure if that was a factor, it is still too early to know.

    We understand floods, and fire, in this country as well as NZ understands earthquakes and volcanoes. This is beyond our limits.

    As far as we are concerned, we will be OK. I have family in the path of this, hopefully they will not do anything stupid. As I write this, all my family north of Newcastle will be getting cut off by floodwaters. But they should be safe.

    Here is a link from a reliable source. It is getting updated regularly. Read the comments, too - local people are passing on observations.

  2. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    And that drought hardpan ground has a hard time absorbing water because it's more like rock, which makes it worse. I hope your family stays safe, and the missing are found safe.
  3. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I'm just shocked to see this flooding after all of the drought. I mean, I understand that sometimes it rains after a dry spell, but this seems so different.
  4. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    I'm sending prayers and good thoughts down under for those lost and suffering due to the flooding. {{{Hugs}}}
  5. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    I hope all your family remains safe, Marg. Keep us posted!
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Update - I have the radio on, with the ABC. It's our national government-owned (but not controlled!) radio network. It's the one t hat reaches all the country, one way or another, so the farmers all listen to this one.
    A news conference is about to start, with the Queensland premier, Anna Bligh. I think the emergency people are in the conference too.

    Meanwhile, I found a link to some footage of the flood.

    I haven't watched it yet, it is still loading. But I think it's footage of the "inland tsunami". It might have been taken before it though.

    Press conference just started - here are my notes.

    It's getting worse today. 80 to 200 mm falling into this, hampering search & rescue efforts especially in Lockyer Valley. Modelling is thrown out by rain, predictions can't be made because the rainfall is changing.
    Grim and desperate - 8 confirmed dead, we expect it to rise. 72 still unaccounted for (so that report of 50 being found was not verified).

    Specialist swift water teams, fire and rescue teams are on standby, but getting them to the region is difficult because the weather is so bad (I heard the background storm in a phone call from the area this morning).

    Flood limits that were already at record highs suddenly got ridiculously higher.

    One helicopter got in, there appear to be no more people on rooftops but there could be rooftop people in outlying properties. They will search when they can get the choppers out there through the weather.

    Ipswitch flood levels will reach 16 metres, but if rain continues (and it will) it could reach 18 metres. Some years ago it hit 20 metres so this won't be the worst. The Wivenhoe Dam will have to have water release to cope, which will make Brisbane flooding worse. They have no choice - if they don't do a controlled release, the result could be catastrophe.

    We have amazing search & rescue people who are risking their lives to get in there and rescue people.

    This was already a disaster, now it has escalated. I can hear the storm behind this press conference - they will not be outdoors, but I can hear the storm sound over the interview microphones.

    They don't think there are any more recent deaths but they do expect to find more who were killed by the flood.

    Current storms are hampering rescue because the helicopters can't cope in this weather.

    They finish the press conference with a warning to people to not go sightseeing.

    They are evacuating entire towns downstream. Some of these are big towns.

    People might ask, "Why do people live in low-lying ground?" but most of the country is low-lying. Besides, when it is drought time, the only water is from the river. And this country is in drought most of the time.

    This is an extraordinary weather pattern causing this. We have a La Nina event, the ocean currents, especially in that part of the coast, are warm. More evaporation, more rain systems. This one looked fairly normal on satellite, but it covered a large area. Lots of rain over a large area means that when it is funnelled into a river valley, it's nasty.

    80mm in half an hour at one weather station. Some were 100 to 150mm (6") in half an hour. This last lot of info was from the chief of the Brisbane Weather Bureau.

    Anyway, these are notes I took during the press conference. it's finished now. More info later. Now the radio is broadcasting community service announcements about how to survive a flood. The TV has been playing these ads for the last couple of weeks too.

    These floods began in early December. Earlier in some areas. It's rough.

  7. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Reminds me of Katrina, and how in NOLA they kept finding more victims. And then more. And then some more. So many are still unidentified. There were (if memory serves) only 11 confirmed dead in the town we lived in in MS, but I will never forget how the aftermath smelled.
  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    HaoZi, it always smells like that, even if there are no human fatalities. Because there are countless animal fatalities, including wildlife. I as listening to the radio a few days ago and people rang in to tell of their past experiences cleaning up after floods. The smell was what they all mentioned.

    I saw the video clip. OMG... I gather that was only a fragment of it, not the main area that was hit. There are more and more film clips making it to YouTube. I can't afford to watch more than one YouTube film every few days, really. husband can download them at work without it going onto our download limit. Plus our TV news will find the most apt footage and show us.

    I'll update as there is more news. I'm following family in the area via Facebook.

  9. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Prayers for all those dealing with this flooding.
  10. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    So sorry to read that the problems have magnified. I am relieved, selfishly of course, that your family is safe. DDD
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    They just made a good point on the news (I'm watching the TV now, the footage is horrendous) - the emergency services people in the area pitching in, are all volunteers and all people who live in the community. So they will know, because these are country towns where everybody knows everybody, exactly who is missing, who is likely to be in strife, and what sort of help they will need. There are some professionals in there, of course, but every town and every service has a huge army of trained volunteers who step up at such times and help out, often while their own homes are in danger. If you can help, you don't feel so useless.

    At times like this, I'm proud to be an Aussie.

  12. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    "Wall of water up to 8 metres high in places..." OMG

  13. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Yes Marg, some of it certainly was animal life (land, ocean, and fresh water). It was also (in our case) the lingering ocean smell (from the storm surge) which to me always has an undercurrent of watery-dead smell, plus you had massive power outages and therefore you had thousands of tons of food sitting in residences, stores, restaurants, casinos, container ships, etc., just rotting in the summer heat. Odd as it may seem, all those smells (and the human dead smell) are all different to me, but when I speak of the post-Katrina smell, I mean specifically the right-after smell of all of that combined. I can really sympathize with those having to deal with that, you might get used to floods and stay prepared for them, but I think the smell never loses its impact, and it's something you can never fully explain to someone that has not experienced it.
  14. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Oh, you updated while I was typing. *cringe* I really hope they manage to get everyone out.
  15. Marg's Man

    Marg's Man Member

    A friend of mine in West Australia pointed out that they are also getting bad floods but flood levels of 1.5 metres don't sound much - until you realise the country out there is so flat that 1.5 metres of water is on a 40+ kilometre front!

    Meanwhile in the south west corner of the same state they are coping (sic!) with Catastrophe grade bushfires - started by a fire bug!

    Marg's Man
  16. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    They're now saying that Brisbane's flooding will peak higher than the previous worst ever flood, which was in 1974. They're evacuating some parts of the city but it's all happening in an orderly manner, I believe.

    Death toll is now 9. The umber still missing is 66. As time passes, it is looking less hopeful for them. Some of these were people known to be in the main street of Toowoomba when the wall of water hit.

    Flooding is now much worse in northern NSW on both sides of the ranges. Inland, Tenterfield is in trouble. That's where Peter Allen was born and the town that gave rise to the song "Tenterfield Saddler". Queensland will still be reeling from this, when NSW gets hit.

    We're going to have problems for months now, with food supplies, fuel supplies etc. The industry of the flooded areas help supply much of the rest of the country. Food prices and fuel prices will rise - Queensland supplies most of the ethanol that is added to our fuel. Meat costs will rise because fodder crops have been lost.
    The river systems right through to South Australia will feel the direct impact of the extra water.

    They're saying this will be the worst floods ever, to hit Australia. The most widespread, the deepest, the more expensive. And it looks like the highest death toll.

    husband posted a link on the other weather thread (about the snow storm). Wrong thread!
    I've re-posted it here.

  17. SearchingForRainbows

    SearchingForRainbows Active Member

    I was in shock after watching the first video you posted... I'm almost speechless... It's so hard to imagine a tragedy on this large a scale... Like DDD, I'm selfish - I'm relieved that your family is safe!!! SFR
  18. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I saw this on the news and immediately thought of you. Thank you so much for making it "real" and adding information.
    Unbelievable. Terrifying.
  19. Estherfromjerusalem

    Estherfromjerusalem Well-Known Member

    That is so scary! I've watched some of the videos you posted. The power of the water is terrifying. I hope your family stays safe.

    Love, Esther
  20. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Over 90 people now reported missing. Official death toll is 10, but as time moves on it is looking very bad for most of those who are missing.

    Brisbane is expecting 5.5 metres at 4 am tomorrow. How can they be so sure? The computer modelling is very accurate and is taking into account the rain upstream, the tides and the unfortunately necessary dam releases.

    The last bad floods in Brisbane were in 1973/74. My boyfriend t the time had a brother in the flood-washed area of Brisbane, so I remember it well. After tat flood, they built a dam above Brisbane. The purpose of the dam was to provide water for Brisbane (of course) but mostly to prevent this sort of flooding. And it has, until now. But the dam is at almost 200% capacity (the extra 100% is the flood buffer) and they said if it goes over 200% they can't control the releases. So they have had to release some water now, to prevent

    1) dam burst; and

    2) uncontrolled water release later.

    The water in the Brisbane River doesn't all come from the dam. There are other rivers, not controlled, that pour in. Plus the king tides at the moment (one king high due tomorrow morning Brisbane time) which will block the outflow of floodwater, and make the flood as high as it will be. They expect over 100,000 homes will be affected. All of those people will have been contacted by now and urged to get to higher ground and protect their property. Given advance notice, people can do things like move appliances to, say, a storage facility on higher ground and protect precious personal effects. Especially their own skins!

    We have family in the Gold Coast, they say they're fine but I know they are on the side of a hill with a creek alongside their property. Toowoomba is halfway up the mountains, and they had that massive torrent hit them. My nephew's place is on the top of a hill; he said, if his place goes under, we'd better build an Ark.

    With the whole management of it all - all emergency services have swung into action. The army has been involved since before Christmas, purely to help get people off roofs, manage evacuation, keep records, provide food/fodder drops. husband mentioned how years ago (actually, about the same time as the 1973/74 Brisbane floods, I think) he was on an army exercise in a flood area (not Brisbane) which got called off so they could be recruited to flood relief work.

    Ahead of the floods, towns and villages are being evacuated. People are being encouraged to help neighbours and friends. The emergency services are mostly staffed by locals who know their area as well as their people. I know from experience, as you get evacuated, your name is taken and notes are made as to where you are going (if anywhere). The police are involved; the army; the Red Cross; the Salvation Army; the fire brigades (bushfire as well as rural as well as national); various other specialised emergency services. The Queensland premier mentioned yesterday a mob called the Fast Water Rescue Services (or similar), and they're all out there pitching in. Helicopters are helping where they can fly. The heavy storms have prevented the chopper movement but in the wake of the storms, they're out there looking for people and directing rescue efforts.

    So with all this involvement and organisation, when they say, "90 people are missing", then they will know the names of those people, their ages, where they live and where they were last seen. And when. They will already have a good idea of their chances. They fully expect to find a lot of bodies when the floods recede, but that could be weeks.

    I was looking at more video online last night and people were saying that when the torrent hit 9and more torrents have hit other towns downstream) that houses were smashed off their footings and washed downstream. But the videos also said, "I could hear the screams of the people inside."

    I mentioned earlier in this thread, that people in this area build on stilts a lot, because it's safer in a flood. But tis flood has reached the houses on the stilts, and those ones were the ones washed away. The few houses built on the ground were swamped long ago, the occupants long gone, mostly to shelters.

    Because it's school holidays, the evac centres are being set up in schools on higher ground. We're sticking with the ABC (the national broadcaster, government owned) for most accurate reporting. The ABC reporter in one town (I think it might have been Ipswitch) said he and his cameraman spent the night in Grade 5's classroom, with a family who had lost their house.

    Power is off - floods short stuff out, plus the coal-fired power stations are running out of coal. They don't have much hydro in Queensland - not enough mountains that are high enough. As I said before, this is a flat country.

    Telephone towers will hve gone, which puts stress on remaining mobile services. In the more inland areas satellites are used. Mobile phones are keeping people in touch and helping services find people who are still OK but isolated.

    This flood, just the Queensland impact, is forecast to lose 1% of our GDP in lost exports alone.

    Other problems - floods are now in NSW up north. Flooding is on both sides of the Great Dividing Range (inland and coastal). Heavy rain in Victoria is causing flooding, although not as severe. And on the other side of the country, Western Australia is suffering Catastrophic bushfires. Catastrophic is a new rating, tacked on to the extreme end of out bushfire rating system. zit is the level at which lives will be lost and you should not stay with your house. it is the level that burned so much, two years ago. And it is slipping below the news radar because over here in the east, we're waterlogged. It's just a shame we can't ship over some of the excess water!

    This is some of the consequence of global warming. El Nino/La Nina is a natural cycle. However, global warming is pushing things to extremes. The heavier snowfalls are also, paradoxically, connected to global warming. Not all incidents are heat-related!

    The area where the WA fires are, we have visited one summer. Mandurah. I remember almost being in a panic because we needed to find water for the children. We were able to buy soft drink, there were a few shops open, but there was no water. I knew sugary drinks were a bad idea, likely to cause more dehydration. Finally we found a picnic area with taps. Most of the taps were dry, but one right up the back was attached to a rainwater tank and there was some water in that, at a trickle. We filled up a water bottle and let the kids have a drink. I'm sure I saw that park in the news last night. All burnt, with black sticks in bare ground.

    The forecast - rain is predicted all down the east coast of Australia and there is no let-up in the near future. The news is on (I'm now on a commercial station) and the cameras are showing the Brisbane River rising as you watch. People have been told to make sure their boats are secured, but the news crews are reporting boats plus their pontoons, floating down the river being pursued by water police. There is a waterside restaurant called "Drift". That is what it is doing.

    Brisbane is still setting up more evac centres. The showground is in use, but they will ned a lot more.

    Still no change in the death toll from the torrent the other day. But the number of missing people is rising. After the Brisbane and Ipswitch flood peaks, I'm afraid there will be more.

    All services and resources are working well together, to keep people as safe as possible. Police have the powers to make people leave, and tis is saving lives, I am sure.

    Brisbane is already starting to go under. Some suburbs are already underwater. Sometimes total strangers are stopping to help people pack and get out. The crazy ting - the sun in Brisbane is shining. It's a beautiful day. But as the premier Anna Bligh said, "the rain has already fallen upstream. The damage is done. The water is on the way and we can't stop it."

    A quick note about our political system - our national leader is a Prime Minister (Julia Gillard). The opposing political party is led by Tony Abbot (called the Opposition leader). Each state has a Premier. Each of these leaders heads a government (of Shadow government, in the Opposition leader's case). The Qld premier is Anna Bligh, the NSW premier is Christine Keneally. The official head of state, however, is the Governor General, the Queen's representative. It's the GG who swears in the PM and the PM's ministers. And our GG is also a woman, for the first time ever. So in the last year or so, we've had the first NSW female premier, the first female GG and the first female PM.

    Right now, the PM is speaking to a news conference detailing payments to help people recover from the floods. She's also arranged for Sea King choppers to come in and help evacuate the suburbs of Brisbane before the inundation.

    They just announced the availability and location of sandbags, and also said Ipswitch will be cut in half some time between 2 pm and 4 pm. The careful computer modelling is helping people prepare more effectively.

    Here is a link about Brisbane. There are also video links in this story. Brisbane is a major city. It'd the third biggest in population in Australia, with 2 million people. Evacuating that many people is a huge task.

    Police have declared the town of Grantham as a crime scene. I think this is because of the chance that Toowoomba bodies ended up here. The water from that torrent that hit Toowoomba is part of what will hit Brisbane tonight.