Australia braces for fresh wave of flooding in Brisbane

Brisbane prepares for fresh flooding and another town recovers from an 'inland tsunami,' as Australia waits for a reprieve from weeks of rain and flooding.

Tertius Pickard/AP
Local residents move to higher ground as the Brisbane river burst its banks to cause widespread flooding in Brisbane, Australia, on Tuesday.

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A new wave of flooding is expected to bear down on Brisbane, Australia, likely bringing further destruction to an area already slammed with perpetual rains in the past month. The Brisbane River is expected to top the high-water mark from the devastating 1974 flood, overwhelming the dam built to prevent a repeat of such flooding.

As the rains continue and river levels around the region rise, authorities are urging residents to remain calm as they deal with the worst flood disaster for Australia in recent memory, according to a report from the newspaper The Australian. Authorities believe there have been 30 deaths and 78 people missing since the flooding began in southeast Queensland.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh is calling on residents to band together to get through the flood crisis, and to look out for their friends and neighbors. "If you live on high ground in Brisbane now is the time to be reaching out to friends and offering help, and offering where necessary a bed for the night, over the coming two to three days," she said according to Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

"I think the entire city of Brisbane, the Ipswich region and most of the south east, needs to prepare ourselves for enormous disruption,” she said.

The region’s flooding reached a crisis point on Monday when a wall of water burst through Toowoomba, a town 80 miles west of Brisbane. Caused by severe thunderstorms, it is being called an ”inland tsunami” and several deaths have been reported in the town as a result.

According to Clem Davis, a 33-year veteran of the Bureau of Meteorology, it would have been impossible to predict this flash flood event due to the nature of the storm and rising river levels, reported the Australian. “With a severe thunderstorm, it comes down very heavily and therefore you can get a rapid rise in the levels. It is more dangerous to be caught in that because obviously there's not the forewarning and foreknowledge available for these events,” he said.

Bar attendant Donna Dyer of Toowoomba said the flooding swept through her town “like a sea," according to The Australian.

"It was shocking. It was pelting rain and we heard the creek banks had burst and then all of a sudden this wall of water was rushing down the street. It rose so quick, and then I am watching a rainwater tank and sofas from the furniture shop floating past. It would have been more than chest high because I saw the water rise around one man on the street, who was walking against the flow and it just picked him up, but he was able to hold on to a sign post."

Residents were forced to spend the night on rooftops and the dangerous weather conditions are impeding rescue operations, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

“Horrifying pictures have been broadcast on television of survivors clinging to trees and posts, of cars being swept away in the torrent, of property being smashed and of families waiting on roofs for help to come,” the Herald reads.

The Monitor reported yesterday that economists have estimated the bill from the prolonged floods – the worst to hit Queensland for half a century – at $5.94 billion. However, they said that the real cost will be known only when the waters recede and the full extent of the damage to Queensland’s infrastructure has been revealed. [Editors note: the original version of this article misstated the estimated cost of flooding.]

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