Here is a morning situation report (sitrep) updating you with 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 as high as $30 billion, and Prime Minister Julia Gillard has suggested the government will impose a flood levy (new tax) on all Australians to help pay for the cost of rebuilding flood damage across the nation.
A major electrical storm with heavy lighning 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.
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 dead bodies in the Lockyer Valley continues, but surviving residents were allowed to return to their homes yesterday for the first time since the inland tsunami wiped much of the community off the map one week ago.
A large task force of 200 police officers are 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: /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.
Many leevees have broken and more than 60 towns are affected and thousands of people are evacuating to temporary shelters as their homes are being inundated.
The ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) reports that the leevees have broken in Kerang, and many of the town’s residents are fleeing north across the state border into New South Wales.
The (Australian) ABC described “walls of water, kilometres wide” sweeping across the north and west of the state after last week’s record rainfall.
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.
Residents of Horsham are cleaning up after flood waters from the Wimmera River inundated their town and homes yesterday.
A major Tasmanian insurance company expects a significant number of claims as the clean-up from the heavy rains continues.
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