Here is an afternoon situation report (sitrep) updating you with Australiaâ€™s flood disaster as of Monday, January 17, 2011.
The death toll from the Queensland floods has now reached 20, and Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has announced there will be a Commission of Enquiry into the devastating floods. The Enquiry will take one whole year and will be conducted by a Supreme Court judge, a former police commissioner and an expert on water dams (ponds). It will report on how prepared Queensland was for the floods, and how well the state responded to the emergency.
The search for more dead bodies in the Lockyer Valley has been extended and will continue for several more days. There are now more than ten people still missing. Soldiers are searching on both banks of Gatton Creek, which is still swollen with flood water.
Queensland Police have now detained 15 people for looting offences. If convicted, they face up to ten years in prison. And today the police have sworn in 100 interstate police officers so they now have full powers of arrest in Queensland. They will hit the streets of Brisbane and Ipswich tomorrow as a 200-strong force of police officers assigned to protect empty premises by arresting looters.
More than 10,000 volunteers cleaned up debris in Brisbane and Ipswich, and Brisbane Mayor Campbell Newman called for more people to return to their workplace. He said they need businesses in the city be back in operation as soon as possible.
The Federal Treasurer, Wayne Swan, has said the disaster will be the most expensive in Australiaâ€™s history.
New South Wales
The flood emergency in NSW is winding down as flood waters slowly recede. Many towns and communities are still cut off by water, but the focus in NSW right now is on getting food supplies and drinking water through to isolated communities and farms.
In Victoria, 4,000 people in more than 40 towns are already affected by rising flood waters.
Residents of Horsham are still bracing themselves for a historic flood event that now looks like arriving sometime tomorrow instead of today. Horsham is expecting the worst flooding of the Wimmera River since the record flood levels of 1909. The State Emergency Services has warned residents to protect their homes in low-lying areas near the river.
Victoriaâ€™s emergency services performed 50 flood rescues, 30 of which were to save people trapped in their stranded cars.
Carlton is flooded and has been cut off.Â Kerang has a flooded sub-station and Vic SES has advised residents to leave, and an emergency alert has been issued for Wycheproof.
Yesterday, the Wimmera River flood peak moved past Dadswells Bridge and Burnt Creek, while the Campaspe River at Echuca has flooded into homes near the river.
Residents on the Clayton River Basin are on alert for flooding, and there are still multiple roads closed in the northwest part of the state.
A big Tasmanian insurer is expecting a significant number of claims as the clean-up continues from this weekâ€™s heavy rains.
Editor’s note: This report is now out of date. Tomorrow morning’s sitrep is here: /australia-floods-morning-sitrep-jan-18-2011-887442.html
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