World — 18 January 2011

Here is a morning situation report (sitrep) updating you with Australia’s flood disaster as of Tuesday, January 18, 2011.

Queensland
The death toll from the Queensland floods has now reached 20, with at least 10 missing.

Anna Bligh, the state Premier, announced yesterday that there will be a Commission of Enquiry into the flood disaster. The Enquiry will take one whole year and will be conducted by an expert on water dams, a Supreme Court judge and a former police commissioner. It will examine how prepared Queensland was for the floods, and how well Queensland’s emergency services responded to the crisis.

The search for more dead bodies in the Lockyer Valley has been extended and will continue for several more days.

In Brisbane, an Australian navy minesweeper has arrived to begin surveying Moreton Bay and the Brisbane River to create a map of the sunken debris.

And 200 police officers are now hunting for would-be looters right across Brisbane and Ipswich. Half of them were sent to help from interstate. The Queensland police already had 15 alleged thieves locked up and, if they are convicted, they face up to ten years in jail for looting.

People started returning to their workplaces in Brisbane yesterday after the city’s mayor said they needed businesses to be up and running again as soon as possible.

Thousands of volunteers are still stripping flooded houses and apartments of their contents and piling the mud-covered furniture and belongings into the street so the homes can be cleaned.

Traffic is still having trouble getting through the city because of blocked or damaged roads. 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 will take much longer.

The Australian Federal Treasurer, Wayne Swan, said the disaster will be the most expensive in Australia’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 New South Wales now is on getting food supplies and clean water to isolated communities and farms.

Victoria
In Victoria, 4,000 people in 46 towns are affected by rising flood waters.

Major flood warnings are current for the Avoca River, Campaspe River downstream of Lake Eppalock, the Loddon River and Wimmera River.

An emergency alert from Vic SES (State Emergency Services) has been issued for Allansford. The Hopkins River is expected to peak between 5 and 10 am today

In Quambatook, leevee banks have been built around the township and across Boort Road, which has been closed. Residents were told to evacuate to the relief centre at Lake Boga.

Residents in Horsham are waiting for the Wimmera River to reach record flood levels that are predicted to be higher than the big flood they had in 1909. The SES has warned residents to protect their homes in low-lying areas near the river.

Just before 6 am Sydney time, (5 am Qld) ABC radio Western Victoria Tweeted an emergency alert for Horsham in the area bounded by Barnes Blvd, Bennett Rd, Laurel St, Selkirk Drv, Hamilton St, McPherson St & McBain St. One hour earlier, they issued an alert for residents in the area bounded by Horsham Drung South Road Natoli Dv & Mardon Dv, telling the residents to leave their houses. Three hours later, the town centre was under 1 metre of water. The worst is yet to come.

Victorian Police divers are searching a flooded billabong for an 8 year-old boy. He was swimming with his older brother and sister yesterday when they saw him duck under the water yesterday. He never resurfaced.

A billabong is a water hole that was once part of a river, but left behind when the river changed its course over the years. They get refreshed with fresh new water during the flood season, which keeps them full of wildlife.

Tasmania
Residents on the Clayton River Basin are on alert for flooding, and there are still 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 week’s heavy rains.

Editor’s note: This information is now outdated. It has been replaced by:  /australia-floods-afternoon-sitrep-jan-18-2011-887450.html

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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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