It's been rain and floods of biblical proportions in Central Queensland over the last few weeks. People have been evacuated, some have lost everything, businesses are awash and roads are cut causing Outback towns and a major city to be isolated. Now the floods are heading our way. The Darling Downs city of Toowoomba was hit by a huge surge of water yesterday. People had no time to prepare...it was totally unexpected.
There was a horrifying situation caught on camera yesterday. We could see three people trapped in their car which had been washed off the road by an enormous wave of water. The woman in the passenger side had her head in her hands in despair. The car was slowly sinking. The next shot showed the three had managed to clamber out and onto the roof of the car...two adults and a child. The news helicopter notifed the SES and we heard later that one person was airlifted off in a very dangerous operation. We then heard that the car had disappeared with the two remaining people. I have never seen anything so terrible in all my life and felt absolutely powerless...those poor, poor people.
Now the Government, Council and SES (State Emergency Service) have put Brisbane Metro on flood alert, especially residents living by the Brisbane river and creeks. During 1974, a massive flood devastated the city, which is built with the river running through the middle of it. To prevent such a flood happening again, Wivenhoe dam was built miles upstream.
Not so long ago, Wivenhoe was nearly empty...we were on very severe water restrictions and had suffered years of drought. Now, the opposite has occurred. The dam is more than full, all flood gates are open and water is pouring into the Brisbane river. However, the Lord Mayor is stressing that although there will be flooding, it won't be as bad as 1974. But he has warned people to be on alert and to prepare their properties and effects for the worst.
The Government has instituted a warning system where residents are notified by mobile phone that there is a flood alert in their area. My granddaughter received such a message yesterday and although she was aware of the danger, she appreciated being contacted.
So...is this phenomenon a natural disaster caused by "global warming", climate change or just the usual cycle of drought/flood that happens once every hundred years or so? Who knows? The boffins all have their theories, the churches have their beliefs and there are the pragmatic souls that put it down to the vagaries of nature.
Whatever the reason, people suffer and our hearts go out to them. That is evidenced in the Premier's Disaster Relief Appeal which so far has reached just under $30 million. That is only a drop in the bucket (no pun intended) to what is needed. However, Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State has generously offered much appreciated support and Queensland thanks the US for this welcome gesture.
Although this all sounds rather parochial, we are well aware that there are other disasters of equal and greater proportions in other parts of the world and our hearts go out to those who are suffering. It is a sombre time indeed. But taking a leaf out of the book of the hardy souls in these disasters...we just need to get on with it and try to put lives back together as much as we can. Unfortunately, for some, it is too late...