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article imageBrisbane: Battlers, mud and occasional bastards

By Paul Wallis     Jan 16, 2011 in World
Brisbane - Brisbane is almost up and running again after the worst floods anyone can remember a long, long time. That's largely thanks to the army of volunteers that appeared out of nowhere, including people from interstate who got on planes as soon as they could.
The saga of the cleanup is turning into yet another epic of endurance for Queenslanders. When an area the size of France and Germany combined gets flooded out, the result is an unbelievable pile of garbage, all wet, and very difficult to handle. The streets of Queensland are full of the debris of the floods. Dumpsters and skips are over flowing, and muddy people are slipping and sliding through the cleanup.
Pictures of the cleanup indicate that practically everything that was inside a house in South Eastern and Central Queensland is now outside those houses. This is the cleanup job to end all cleanup jobs, and unlike New Orleans, things are happening at an incredible speed.
If Brisbane has shown anything to the world, it's certainly reinforced the Australian view that the New Orleans relief debacle was entirely unnecessary. Brisbane is a city of 3 million people, and unlike the several months it took to get New Orleans going, Brisbane is back in business almost overnight.
On the other side of the coin scam artists have already been ripping people off asking for donations. These nationally loathed scam/scum are causing the authorities to issue regular warnings. Added to this irritation are more sightseers and other invaluable obstacles to getting things done.
The roads have been so full of people trying to move debris of the authorities of actually asked people to stay home and make sure that the roads are kept clear as possible. Track after truck is hauling away debris as Queensland struggles soggily back on its feet.
The Port of Brisbane has now reopened, with the first arrival a supertanker, and another one to follow to make sure the city doesn't run out of fuel. The Brisbane markets are also coming back to life, having been literally submerged under about 4 m of water. Nobody is entirely sure what food is left to send to the markets, but we’re about to find out.
Global impact of the Queensland floods
Actual crop damage is expected to be severe, so much so that Australia is expecting a big spike in food prices for several months. Queensland is one of Australia's major growing areas, and it's quite possible the food shortage will also affect global food prices. Severe weather has damaged what was supposed to be a bumper wheat crop and the cycle of 2010, when grain prices were hit by the local climate problems of exporters looks set to be repeated.
Flood donations haven't quite been keeping up with expectations, although many people have been giving. A series of local disasters around the country hasn't helped much, and people battling with their own problems can't give as much as they would like.
What is truly remarkable is that Brisbane is today open for business. This is the typical Queensland fightback we other Aussies know so well from their sporting teams. If that's the case, they'll be pretty much back in business by February.
Australians around the country have been applauding Queensland’s community spirit, and a few disgusting bastards more or less could also be taken out with the trash. Queensland will be “Beautiful one day, and perfect the next”, whether floods, bushfires and droughts like it or not.
More about Queensland floods, Brisbane, Cleanup, Recovery effort
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