Here is a morning situation report on Australia’s flood disaster on Sunday, January 16, 2011.
The death toll from the Queensland floods still stands at 16 dead. Queensland Police still have grave fears for 15 missing people.
Many were washed away in the floodwaters, either in their cars or trying to swim to safety, while others drowned in their homes or were even washed out by inland tsunamis that demolished many houses with people still in them.
Thousands of volunteers are helping the 1200 ADF military personnel, police, firefighters and SES with the cleanup in the biggest natural disaster ever seen in Australia — not by the number of people killed, but my the magnitude of the areaÂ affected with hundreds of towns and thousands of homes damaged or destroyed.
A decidedly brighter Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said this morning that she saw “a kind of magic” in the outpouring of love and emotion by people helping not just their families, friends or neighbours, but pitching in to help total strangers in time of trouble.
Workers and emergency workers have again been warned that the water and mud are so contaminated they should be considered toxic. Five Â (previously two) workers are now in hospital from serious infections.
Queensland AMA President Dr Gino Pecoraro told journalists the bacteria in the water are so dangerous that a scratch can mean the loss of a limb or even death if the bacteria enter the bloodstream. Any wound should be immediately washed and treated and covered with a waterproof bandage, he said.
Dr Pecoraro also warned workers to wear sun hats, long sleeved shirts and sun block creams to minimise risks of sunburn and skin cancers; and to have sturdy footwear and gloves.
In southern Queensland, the residents of St George another flood has been predicted for next week. The Balonne River is expected to peak at 13 metres over the next few days, and half a dozen homes could be inundated if the water rises as predicted.
In Queensland’s Western Downs, the town of Condamine has been evacuated for the second time. A flood peak of 15 metres has been predicted for late tomorrow night. This is only slightly below the record level of 15.25 metres set earlier this month.
UPDATE: Donations to the Queensland Premier’s Flood Appeal have reached $64 million so far. Anna Bligh’s office Tweeted a thank you to all those who have donated so far. More money is needed, urgently, since rebuilding is going to cost many billions of dollars.
To make a donation, please visit www.qld.gov.au/floods
Queen Elizabeth II and Charles the Prince of Wales have both made separate personal donations to the flood appeal. The amounts given were not disclosed, but both Royals praised Australians for their courage and spirit.
New South Wales
The town of Boggabilla near the Queensland border is returning to normal after its leevee held back the swollen MacIntyre River, but flood waters are still high in the townships of Maclean, Iluka and Yamba along the Clarence River and are not expected to recede for the next two days.
In the far west of NSW, 400 residents of Goodooga and Angledool are likely to isolated for up to two months.
A record rainfall, equivalent to what Victorians normally experience over the whole summer, has the state of Victoria now in the grip of a major flood. Up to one-quarter of the state has been affected.
Many communities were swamped by swollen rivers yesterday, and 34 Victorian towns are now anxiously awaiting the flood peaks.
So far 13,000 properties across Victoria have been flooded and 3,000 people have been forced to abandon their homes.
Flood cleanups are now underway in northern Tasmania, but the infrastructure will take some time to recover.
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