Here is an evening situation report (sitrep) updating you with Australiaâ€™s flood disaster as of Tuesday, January 18, 2011.
The Australian Federal Treasurer, Wayne Swan, said the flood disaster will be the most expensive in Australiaâ€™s history, and Julia Gillard, the Australian Prime Minister, has hinted that the Federal Government may impose a flood levy or tax on all Australians to help pay for the cost of rebuilding after the flood disaster. Some private estimates now say the cost could even exceed $30 billion nationally.
The death toll from the Queensland floods has now reached 20, with 12 still known to be missing.
The Queensland Premier Anna Bligh yesterday announced a Commission of Enquiry into the flood disaster to examine how prepared Queensland was for the floods, and how well itâ€™s emergency services handled to the crisis. The Enquiry will take one whole year and will be conducted by dams expert, a Supreme Court judge and a former police commissioner.
The search for more dead bodies in the Lockyer Valley will continue for several more days, but surviving residents have been allowed to return to their homes for the first time since the inland tsunami wiped much of the community off the map.
An Australian navy minesweeper and two other navy ships have arrived in Brisbane to start surveying Moreton Bay and the Brisbane River to map all the sunken debris for later removal.
People have started returning to their workplaces in Brisbane since the cityâ€™s mayor said they need businesses to be back up and running again as soon as possible.
Tens of thousands of volunteers are being moved around the city in buses to continue the big flood clean up. That will take months, but repairing the damage could take years.
And 200 police officers are now deployed to Brisbane and Ipswich, hunting for would-be looters. Half the police come from interstate and had to be sworn in before they had police powers in Queensland. The police already have 15 people locked up for looting and, if they are convicted, they face up to ten years jail.
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 New South Wales now is on getting food supplies and clean water to isolated communities and farms.
The body of the missing 8-year-old boy was recovered today from a flooded billabong (water hole) near Shepparton. He had been swimming there with his older brother and sister when he disappeared.
Major flood warnings are current for the Avoca River, Campaspe River downstream of Lake Eppalock, the Loddon River and Wimmera River. And Water Police have been sent to Horsham, Kerang and Dimboola to help police flooded areas there.
Residents of Horsham are watching as flood waters from the Wimmera River fill their town and inundate their homes. The water peaked a few hours ago, reaching the 3.8 metre level.
The floods are already the worst in Victoria’s recorded history, with more than 60 towns affected and thousands of homes inundated with water.
There is still some flooding and some roads remain closed in the northwest part of the state.
A major Tasmanian insurance company expects a significant number of claims as the clean-up from the heavy rains continues.
Editor’s note: This report has been replaced by a newer report. You can read it here: /australia-floods-morning-sitrep-jan-19-2011-887471.html
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