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article imageQueensland’s giant floods – Damage $6 billion, towns evacuated

By Paul Wallis     Dec 31, 2010 in Environment
Brisbane - Unheard-of levels of flooding have covered a million square kilometres of Queensland, Australia. The town of Emerald has been completely evacuated and the city of Rockhampton threatened. Mining and agricultural industries have come to a standstill.
The flooding was caused by a combination of extremely heavy rain, which went on for weeks and the very complex Queensland river system which crisscrosses a large area of the state. All of these rivers have sent massive amounts of water downstream, making roads impassable and effectively shutting down the entire affected region, BBC News reports.
Australia's north does get a seasonal monsoon, but not usually in this area, and not like this. Extremely heavy rain caught everyone by surprise, dumping hundreds of millimeters of rain in a very short time. With it came a major tropical depression which inundated the region still further.
The effect has been devastating, according to Brisbane Times. Towns and local communities have been cut off, Queensland's multi-billion-dollar food production and mining industry have been shut down, and thousands of people are homeless. Queenslanders are a resilient bunch, used to cyclones, cane toads, bushfires and Australia's haphazard tourist industry, but these floods have hit the community very hard.
The story so far is:
1. While the floodwaters appear to have peaked in most regions in some areas they’re still rising. Rockhampton is expecting flood peak today or tomorrow.
2. The port of Bundaberg has closed due to flood damage.
3. 22 communities isolated.
4. 200,000 people have been affected by the floods.
5. 11,000 people in Emerald had to be evacuated.
6. Floodwaters have damaged sewage systems causing concerns about disease.
7. Mining companies have declared force majeure on production contracts resulting in the loss of several hundred million dollars worth of production.
8. Forward estimates of actual losses are currently at $6 billion, but in practice until the damage to infrastructure is evaluated the full cost is unclear.
9. The agricultural industry has been hit particularly hard, with the general consensus of opinion among experts that the floods will cause significant food price rises in the domestic Australian market.
10. The floods have caused a shortage of food in affected communities with major efforts being made to supply them, including food truck convoys.
11. Queensland State Emergency Services are receiving relief teams and assistance from interstate emergency services, after a week of fighting the floods, saving people and managing the evacuations.
12. Military assistance has also been provided, with army Black Hawk helicopters ferrying people out of flooded areas.
13. A relief fund has been established to help communities deal with the crisis, and already has $7 million in it, including million-dollar corporate donations.
14. Emergency payments have been authorized for people affected by the floods.
The last time this area was flooded out was 40 years ago, when the population was approximately a quarter the size it is now and the area lacked the massive infrastructure it now has. These floods are the worst in living memory, and approximately half of Queensland has now been officially declared a disaster zone.
Flooding in Queensland has caused only treetops to be visible in many areas.
Flooding in Queensland has caused only treetops to be visible in many areas.
robstephaustralia
Even by Australian standards, Queensland's performance has been outstanding in the face of a major disaster. The floods have strained Queensland's resources to the limit, and the state has coped extremely well under almost impossible conditions. No deaths have been reported, a miracle in itself. Evacuees have been promptly and efficiently housed, and responses in support logistics have been highly effective.
This is one of those real "outback legends" which will never be adequately portrayed in the media. Dealing with droughts, bushfires, cyclones and floods is an Australian heritage, too, and it's brought out the best in Queenslanders. The rest of us Aussies may be gobsmacked, but there will be no lack of sympathy and support. Best of luck, you blokes.
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