Here is an afternoon situation report (sitrep) updating you with the latest news on Australiaâ€™s flood disaster as of Wednesday, January 19, 2011.
The Australian flood disaster will be the most expensive in Australiaâ€™s history. Various sources have thrown up dollar figures from as low as a few hundred million dollars to as high as $30 billion to repair all the damage. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has suggested the government will impose a flood levy (a new tax) on all Australians to help pay for the cost of rebuilding right across the nation.
A major electrical storm with heavy lightning hit Ipswich and Brisbane yesterday causing many areas to lose their electricity supplies. More storms are on the way today. This will hamper the cleanup, and delay any return to normality.
The death toll from the Queensland floods is still 20, with 12 missing.
Toowomba teenager Jordan Rice and his mother Donna were buried today. Thirteen-year-old Jordan died a hero together with his mother. He had told rescuers to save his 10-year-old brother Blake first. But by the time rescuers had saved the younger boy and threw the lifeline back, Jordan and his mother had been swept away to their deaths by flood waters.
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 Australian Red Cross now has more than 800 staff and trained volunteers out on the ground assisting in the emergency response.
The search for more bodies in the Lockyer Valley continues, and surviving residents were allowed to return to their homes yesterday for the first time since floods wiped out much of the community off the map last week. They survivors have asked for outsiders to leave them alone and give them privacy.
A task force of 200 police officers is protecting Brisbane and Ipswich from looters, who face up to ten years jail if convicted. Meanwhile, police arrested two teenagers yesterday who claimed to be collecting donations for flood relief. (See also:Â /new-south-wales-cops-help-to-police-queensland-floods-video-887474.html )
New South Wales
The focus in New South Wales now is on getting food supplies and clean water to isolated communities and farms.
Victoria is experiencing the worst floods seen since 1933, and some have said the worst-ever in the state’s recorded history.
Many leevees have broken and more 62 towns are affected, with thousands of people are evacuating to temporary shelters as their homes are being inundated.
The leevees seem to be holding in Kerang, despite reports this morning that they were giving way. Many of the townâ€™s residents fled north across the state border into New South Wales. If the leevee does break and the town floods badly, residents will likely be cut off for at least three days.
Residents of Horsham are cleaning up after flood waters from the Wimmera River inundated their town and many homes yesterday.
Two teenagers were arrested in Shepparton. They were allegedly door knocking for money and tried to flee when a housholder became suspicious and asked them for ID. The boys, aged 16 and 18, fled but were caught by the police. They are accused of falsely collecting money for Queensland’s flood victims.
Police have also issued a general warning for residents to beware of people trying to cash in on the flood crisis that is gripping Australia’s east coast. People should be wary of bogus charity collectors and also workmen who offer to do repairs, ask for cash up front and then disappear with the money.
The body of the missing 8-year-old boy was recovered yesterday from a flooded billabong (water hole) near Shepparton. He had been swimming there with his older brother and sister when he disappeared.
The heavy rain in northeast Tasmania has finished, flood waters are receding, and life is returning to normal.
Editor’s note: This report is now out of date. It has been replaced by /australia-floods-morning-sitrep-jan-20-2011-887495.html
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