As I write we have brutal heat in Brisbane, with a dry west wind. On 11 January last year Robert Merkel put up a post, Queensland floods get worse. Later that day Mark put up a post, Brisbane flood maps and up to date flood information and slaved mightily for a time passing on information gleaned from twitter and other sources, until he went quiet. By the 12th he was a refugee at my place. His place was high and dry, but the power went off. By the 14th the Brisbane floods were in retreat.
Earlier on the 10th there had been what we used to call a ‘cloudburst’ on the Toowoomba Range, when 150mm (6 inches in the old money) fell in about half an hour. I posted some Toowoomba flood pics taken by my cousin’s brother-in-law. Yesterday I heard Anna Bligh tell the story of a year ago, how she was addressing the umpteenth, by that time, press briefing on the Queensland floods. From September 2010 there had been many cities and towns flooded across Queensland, some of them totally evacuated several times. As she fronted the media a minder handed her a sheet with breaking news. She found herself talking about swift water rescues in the main street of Toowoomba. “This can’t be right”, she thought. “It’s impossible.” It wasn’t. This is what was going on in Toowoomba:
Those photos are from a Toowoomba Chronicle gallery of reader pics.
From memory two people died in the Toowoomba floods. Of course on the eastern escarpment a worse tragedy was unfolding as a tsunami of water was launched onto the small town of Grantham and the Lockyer Valley. People were barely warned when minutes later they were fighting for their lives. Whole houses were washed away. Some people went to the railway bridge for a good view and found themselves running for their lives.
Wikipedia gives an account of the Queensland floods in the various river basins and tells us that as on January 28, 2011 the death toll was 35, 21 from Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley, with 9 missing. Most of the missing would have been from the Lockyer Valley.
Very soon in Brisbane the big cleanup was underway with a citizens’ army as well as the real one:
Citizen Rudd was there to help:
I believe he got an infected foot out of it. Perhaps he wasn’t wearing these:
Those pics came from the ABC gallery, the best I’ve seen.
There was a lot of social capital created by the Queensland floods, much of which exists today. Wounds were also created, many still open or thinly covered by scar tissue. A year later it’s a time for looking forward as well as looking back, but we’ve changed forever, and not just those directly involved.
Points along these lines were made at a dawn service and a string of memorial events on 10 January, all attended by Anna Bligh and at least the first by Julia Gillard and Quentin Bryce.
The media were there in force. Here are reports, for example, from
Courier Mail, the ABC and The Age. Perhaps the best was this one in the Toowoomba Chronicle and syndicated through other rural papers.
Today (11th) the caravan moved on to Ipswich and tomorrow it will be Brisbane.
Yasi brought broken houses:
piled up boats:
and utter devastation in Cardwell:
The experience of the summer is written on Premier Bligh’s face:
I must admit to shedding a tear or two when finding that one amongst the other images in the Brisbane Times photo gallery.
OK, here are a few links from the media, mainly the ABC and the Courier Mail.
The ABC has a gallery of flood pics contrasting before and during the flood.
The Courier Mail’s gallery contrasts during the flood and a year later.
This CM page has links to specific stories.
The ABC has an interesting account of the role played by twitter.
ABC OPEN has a feature: Aftermath: disaster, resilience and recovery which collects stories from within the community.
Bligh has emphasised the a complete rebuild will take about three years. Here’s a gallery of buildings still under repair.
Property prices have been affected, not always logically.
Here is a list of all our posts on Queensland floods, not all of them already linked above:
Brian on Queensland floods
Robert on Queensland floods get worse
Brian on Toowoomba flood pics
Brian on Brisbane floods in retreat
Brian on Open thread on Queensland floods
Brian on Wivenhoe dam management
Brian on Cyclone watch
Brian on Wivehoe’s floodgates open
There were some posts on other blogs:
tigtog at Hoyden on As if the floodwaters weren’t enough (about snakes in the floodwaters)
blue milk at Hoyden on Observations from West End, Brisbane
Grog’s Gamut on leadership is a wonderful thing to behold
blue milk at Hoyden on What would Anna Bligh do?
Latika Bourke on Tweeting the floods
You have to understand that the summer of floods came on top of a series of floods and extreme weather events. For example in early March 2010 I posted on the unprecedented floods in SW Queensland. I didn’t do a post on the summer of 2008-9 but the Courier Mail has a photo gallery A season of disaster which began with the supercell storm that ripped through The Gap in November 2008, then spectacular electrical storms in Brisbane, extensive flooding in Queensland and finishes with the tragic fires in Victoria.
I did post on the toxic waste spill from mines in NW Qld. That post mentions extensive floods in Central Queensland a year earlier. I read the other day that half the water that swamped open cut coal mines in Central Queensland last summer is still there. Stream flow has been insufficient to pump it all out.
At this point, however, I’m mainly remembering and leaving analysis of the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry Interim Report. The final report is due in February.