Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Brisbane floods

I've been glued to the TV for the past 24 hours watching the most surreal events unfold.

Two days ago an 8 metre wall of water that has been dubbed an inland tsunami rushed down the streets of Toowoomba, inundating businesses and homes and picking up cars and smashing them like they were playthings. What makes this doubly scary is that Toowoomba is 700m above sea level, situated on the flat top of a mountain range. The water then rushed through small townships, lifting homes off their foundations and sweeping away entire families.

Right now my own city (Brisbane) is experiencing the worst flooding since 1974 and it looks as though tomorrow those levels will be surpassed. The CBD looks to be in real trouble. I just watched an iconic restaurant float down the river on TV. It is very surreal.

Our home is not in any danger of flooding as our suburb is neither close the the river or in a low lying area, but we are cut off for the time being as more and more major roads become flooded in places. My husband was sent home from work along with the rest of his colleagues yesterday when it became apparent that the water was rising very quickly. To give you an idea of how fast the waters rose, about 1/2 an hour after he arrived home the route he took was impassable. It's not expected that he will be able to return to his office until next week when flood waters recede.

People were panic buying at the supermarkets yesterday. I went out last night to get some pet food and a couple of things as I probably should have done the regular weekly shop (but was too busy watching for updates on the flood situation and fretting about my husband on his motorbike braving the rain, panicked people driving home from the CBD and the rising flood waters) and the shelves were completely empty. Not a single loaf of bread, bottle of milk, pack of flour, rice, pasta or noodles or bottle of water to be seen. All of the potato bins were empty bar a few at the bottom that escaped notice, any veggies like cabbage and corn that keep well were gone and most of the meat was gone too. There are no batteries and no candles to be had. I wish I had thought to take a picture - I've never seen anything like it! You would think that people believed that there was never going to be food again. The annoying thing is that I am sure that a lot of it will go to waste - especially the milk and bread as not that many people have the space to freeze it, and by being so selfish and overbuying a lot of other people may not be able to get anything at all.

My home town of Rockhampton has also been suffering from flooding for the past few weeks and my parents reported that similar behaviour in the supermarkets - people actually had fist fights over packets of 2 minute noodles and a lady bought every last hot dog roll from the local Wendy's! Probably at great expense too....

Unlike the situation here though, the people of Rockhampton are quite used to flooding. The waters rise slowly and most of the time residents have enough time to get their belongings to higher ground and prepare. In some parts of town the flooding is kind of a given event every couple of years. Most of the houses there are Queenslanders built high on stumps and although the water comes partway up the stairs, unless it is a severe event usually people are able to stay in their houses. My first job there was at Boral Gas right on the river and the staff told me that during a flood a couple of years before I started the only way to get to work was to be ferried in by dingy!

I have to say that I have never seen anything like this though.... I'd love to show you some pics but we are being cautioned to stay off the roads on order to keep the way clear for emergency vehicles, and besides it would feel like pretty poor form to be wandering about taking photos of other peoples misfortune. Here is a link to our local newspaper's photo gallery of the event to give you an idea of what is going on.

At any rate, as I said our home is high and dry, my family and friends are safe and we have a little bit of food in the cupboard and that is more than a lot of people have right now.

I have temporarily closed the shop for the time being as I can't guarantee that delivery won't be effected for the next week or so.


  1. WOW! I am so glad I stopped by and read this from you tonight - I was just about to go offline too!

    I had been hearing news through the internet of all that has been happening 'down under' - we keep close ear to such things as hubby has been known to be called to help (such as in New Zealand last year). In the first instance I am glad you are okay - but feel angered also by the absurd selfishness/thoughtlessness of other community's members, as you so rightly say. It's mad!

    I have all fingers crossed for you and all those affected that life can return to somewhat of normality soon - but things will most likely never be quite the same. Hugs to you :)

  2. oh... you live in Brisbane... i'm in France and we saw this on TV. SO SAD. and i was heartbroken to hear about this 13 yr old guy who gave his life to save his brother... good luck to you, you're in our thoughts

  3. Yes, it is very sad. There are a lot of tragic stories that have come out of this event, but the one about the 13yo who gave his life to save his brother really got to me as well.