Monday, 10 January 2011

Toowoomba Floods




(Caution: language alert on video)

Well, I've just spent two hours energetically "brooming" water away from around the old manse so it didn't get flooded (this involves using a wide broom to re-direct water away from the house either along natural drainage channels or onto the lawn). The water was only about 6 cms deep, but another few cms and it would have gained entry at our lowest point - the side door. Half way through all this we managed to get about six sandbags from the State Emergency Service to protect that entry, but would you believe they've now run out of bags and the City Council has no sand available!? Almost can't believe it - for three months the weather bureau has been predicting a summer of low pressure troughs, torrential rain and possible cyclones for Queensland and the local SES runs out of sandbags.

When you get 80mm of rain in one hour, even living on top of a mountain range 700m above sea level will not prevent flooding; in fact, it just makes the water run all the more furiously down hill and the resultant flood all the more unexpected and violent. The clips above were taken downtown. Incredible. You wouldn't believe it if you didn't see it. Hopefully, the damage is only to property and not to life and limb. Note the bravery of the policeman and (I think) fireman in the top video, attempting to rescue those trapped in their vehicles, in stark contrast to the idiocy of those (out of sight) cheering as the van crashes through the scene.

As of today, this is officially Toowoomba's wettest (and coolest) summer since 1974, the year the Queensland capital, Brisbane, about 130 kms to the east, flooded. Funnily enough, I spent that summer about 100 metres from where I am writing this in the study of the old manse, in my maternal grandparents' house, which I can see out my window in the next street. But we're fortunate here - provided the rain stops or eases, the water will makes its way out of town via the water courses; not so for those poor Queensland folk living in towns and cities built on flood plains - they'll have to wait weeks for the water to subside...assuming the rain stops, that is.
Lord, have mercy!

--+--

Update 10.24pm - Up to seven people feared dead in Toowoomba, two deaths already confirmed. More torrential rain predicted in the next 12 hours.

4 comments:

Southern Cross said...

I had not noticed you live in Toowoomba. This is a lovely town, I would like nothing more than to come back when the leaves of this special variety of tree (I cannot recall the name) turn purple. Hopefully the rain will stop. This saddens me (from my British vantage point), I also have some acquaintances in Toowoomba, I pray that they are safe and unscathed.

Schütz said...

Dear Pastor Mark,

Our prayers are with you from down south. This is just catastrophic.

Joshua said...

Please be assured of prayers.

Pr Mark Henderson said...

Thanks SC, Joshua, David, and those who have contaced me off-blog.
We are fine.

I believe 9 are dead and 66 unaccounted for in Toowoomba and environs, most particularly on the eastern side of the ridge (the city is on the western side) and in the valley below. The pics from Toowoomba were spectacular, but the real damage is being done in the Lockyer Valley (aka "the salad bowl of Australia") below us, which is largely under water.

Failing another "extreme weather event" like the storm which dumped 80mls in 30 mins, I don't think Toowoomba will suffer much more. However, Brisbane is going to flood to or over 1974 levels.

The questions now are 1) How long will the rain persist? Given that this is being caused by a La Nina event in the Pacific Ocean which could continue to May; and 2) what will the imapact upon food be in the longer term? The damage done to crops and cattle on the western plains, and the wiping out of the Lockyer Valley, will soon affect food prices Australia-wide, and possibly even internationally.

Prayers certainly appreciated!

In the meantime, we're doing our best to Stay Calm & Carry On!