World — 15 January 2011

Australia’s flood emergency — Afternoon situation report (sitrep) for Saturday, January 15th, 2011.

Queensland

The death toll in Queensland is still 16, with 28 persons officially missing. Authorities have said many of the dead will probably never be found. But police, SES, military and other rescue services continue to look for the dead. The search for bodies at Grantham in the Lockyer Valley will continue until noon tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Water Police are searching up and down the Brisbane River looking for more of the dead.

The cleanup of Brisbane went into full swing today with nearly 20,000 volunteers turning up to help feed the dispossessed and clean up the mess. By late this afternoon no less than 55,000 people had registered to volunteer their labour and skills to help Queensland get over the flood disaster.

Teams of eager Australians pitched in to help neighbours and total strangers in emtpying out the contents of mud-filled houses onto the grass nature-strips on the streets outside. Next the mud is cleared from the homes, and the damaged belongings sorted for anything salvageable.

The main site for registering with the Queensland Government for unpaid volunteer work to help out with the Queensland flood emergency is: http://www.emergencyvolunteering.com.au/

The Australian Defence Forces (ADF) have 1200 forces personnel helping to bring in food and supplies, and other tasks. This is the largest deployment of the military since Cyclone Tracy in 1974.

There are 23,500 homes in the state that are still without power and Energex, the electric power company, says it may be weeks before some people get the power back on again. They have also warned that any building that has been flooded should be checked by an electrician to be sure it is safe to turn on the electricity again.

People are warned that the floodwaters are toxic with fuel and bacteria. Parents have been asked to keep children from playing in the water, and everyone else is warned to be extra careful and wear protective clothing. The smallest scratch is likely to mean an infection.

Donations

To donate money the Queensland Premier’s emergency fund for this disaster, there is a special web page here: http://www.qld.gov.au/floods/donate.html

Please send whatever you can. Donations can also be made at any of the Australian banks.

Queensland emergency hotlines

Brisbane SES 132-500
Info line for friends & relatives: 1300 993 191
Disaster Recovery Hotline: 1800 173 349
Lockyer Valley Council emergency line: 1300 005 872
Brisbane Centrelink Assistance Hotline: 180 2222
For more info, go to www.Brisbane.Queensland.gov.au

New South Wales

In northern New South Wales, the town of Goondiwindi has survived flood waters that rose to 10.64 metres before receding. The town’s leevee was exactly 11 m high, so it was a close thing. The water in the MacIntyre River is rapidly receding, so the immediate danger has passed. Life there is starting to return to normal, because the town mayor told journalists that the pubs (bars) in “Gundy” have re-opened for business.

Victoria

The rains and floodwaters are still very active in the state of Victoria, where more than 3,000 people have been evacuated. 900 homes have been inundated and 29 towns have been flooded.

There are major flood warnings in force for the Avoca, Campaspe, Glenelg, Loddon and Wimmera Rivers. Minor flood warnings have also been issued for nine other waterways including the Maribyrnong River and the Werribbee River in Victoria’s northwest and southeastern suburbs.

Tasmania

Residents in several northern Tasmanian towns were evacuated last night when the Apple Isle was hit by strong winds and heavy rains. The town of Railton was flooded one metre deep in flood water and an evacuation centre was established at the local primary School. Several shops and businesses were also damaged by the flood, but the damage was minimised due to sand-bagging by the local State Emergency Services (SES).

The Meander River at Deloraine has peaked, but locals are confident the worst is over.

For further information on road closures in Tasmania, see here: http://www.police.tas.gov.au/community-alerts/55/flooding-tasmania/

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About Author

David Harvey, Editor

David Harvey left school at 17 and went straight into newspapers as a cadet reporter. (He also a keen photographer and learned both trades.) He worked as a photojournalist in Hong Kong and as a war correspondent in Vietnam during the war. He moved to Australia in the late 1970s and got involved in I.T. during the mid-80s. This website is his latest venture here, combining news-gathering with the power of the internet. See: news-reporter

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