Queensland Australia..

Discussion in 'World Events' started by Bells, Jan 12, 2011.

  1. Bells Staff Member

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    As some of you may be aware, my home state of Queensland and city of Brisbane is currently facing dire floods. While my husband and I and our parents are safe and our houses secure on high ground, my sister inlaw has lost her home, as have many of our friends, many of whom are currently sheltering with us. We are still awaiting to hear of my husband's terminally ill aunt and her husband who lived in the Lockyer Valley, West of Brisbane.. We hear their home town was evacuated after the devastating wall of water came down the valley, but we still don't know where they are.

    We are hearing horror stories of those who were in the valley when the devastating floods came through and as you can imagine, the level of grief and sadness and fear is strong in all of us. Some small towns have disappeared entirely with whole houses with their occupants lifted off and carried away and wild weather has prevented help from getting to them from the air and many of the roads are cut off.

    My sister in law her her husband are trying to hear news of his family to the North of us who may have been evacuated. Our friends have family missing and unheard of and their own houses are already under water. Houses 10 blocks away are currently going under water. The sound of alarms and helicopters ring through the air. We survived the storms of The Gap, which destroyed our house, a few years ago and this time the devastation is greater and over a wider range of area (75% of the State itself) but what makes this different in a lot of ways is the silence punctured by the sound of alarms.

    The City of Brisbane will be flooded by tomorrow. As bad as this is now, the worst is yet to come with the high tide about to hit the Brisbane River (River that weaves through the city) with a king tide peak by tomorrow afternoon. Worst still is the rescue and recovery mission going on in the valley as the army attempts to rescue anyone left there and look for bodies. We expect more bodies to be discovered after were washed from their homes and cars and elsewhere, when that wall of water came down the valley after devastating Toowoomba in a flash flood from hell.

    The surreal thing is that today is a fairly sunny day, with the rain having finally eased, but the sheer volume in the last couple of weeks and especially in the last few days, has resulted in the dam protecting the city to be filled to capacity and the overflow having to be released, flooding an already flooded river system. This is a river flood and you can virtually see the river rising by the minute.

    We are lucky. We are safe and dry. Thousands around me are not.

    I think once the flood waters recede, we will collectively all be in clean up mode. We are expecting more rain in the coming weeks and frankly, I can't think about that right now. My beautiful city is going under water and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Many of our city's iconic landmarks have sunk or drifted away down the river. Others will be destroyed as they pose a danger if they float away.

    We expect the power to where we are to be cut probably by this afternoon as the waters rise. We have stocked up on the essentials to see us and our family and friends sheltering with us for probably about a week.

    I ask that you keep the people in Queensland in your thoughts over the coming days. We need all the help we can get now.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2011
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  3. nietzschefan Thread Killer Valued Senior Member

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    Insurance gonna payout or is this one of those things they blame on "god"?

    I will donate to paying the army of lawyers to make insurance CO payout.

    Anyway best of luck in the coming days.
     
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  5. Gustav Banned Banned

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    hang in there bells
     
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    Last edited: Jan 12, 2011
  8. Bells Staff Member

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    Thank you.

    And unfortunately, many insurers refuse to insure people who live near rivers. So many will be uninsured. But many of us who can are donating so they can rebuild after this mess is over.

    I may not be posting much in the coming days. We have been told that the power will be on and off over the next few days. Looking up, the clouds are staring to roll in again and it feels like we're going to get storms tonight, but we simply do not know yet.. We really do not need or want any more rain at the moment.

    The nightmare is starting to unfold near us in the City and we are trying to get in contact with those who would have had to evacuate. We are sure they got out, but it's a thing of wanting to make sure. I have 18 people in my house at the moment and it's a bit crowded, but we're all safe, which is the most important thing. I'll check in when I can.

    For now.. Bye!

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  9. DanceAndExplode Fear me, for I am Death. Registered Senior Member

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    I hope everything turns out ok for you and your family and friends, Bells. Such a tragic thing that has happened. I've been watching the coverage on tv most of last night and today. It's so hard to believe this could happen in the Sunshine State.
     
  10. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    Now I am not wanting to start an argument here but why not just move a few miles away from the river? If everyone knows that the river will flood every so often then it wouldn't be to fucking smart to build where you can't get insurance and you know that you will be flooded one day. Rebuild but at a safe distance, it doesn't have to be miles away but if you know how far the flood went over the years then you would want to build there. Common sense has been thrown away it seems and then everyone wants help even though they caused their own troubles.
     
  11. Bells Staff Member

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    I'd never have guessed..

    Which river?

    75% of the State has been affected by flood in the last month. So which river should we move away from and where should we all move to? Rivers snake through the countryside, along with creeks and little waterways, all of which are flooded at the moment.

    Moving a few miles away would not guarantee you insurance for floods. Few insurers offer flood insurance in Australia.

    Wow.. Just wow..

    Firstly, few people can get flood insurance .. regardless of whether you live on the river or a few "fucking" miles away.

    Secondly, the metropolitan area currently flooded is but a small part of the flood emergency of the State. 75% of the "fucking" State is currently under water. That is approximately an area as big as France and Germany combined. Very few of those flooded can get "fucking" flood insurance.

    Thirdly.. Please tell me where one can live to never be flooded?.. Such a god damn place does not exist on this planet. Anyone can be "fucking" flooded one day. If the top of a god damn "fucking" mountain with small and previously dry waterways can flood and have a flash flood so bad that it tore houses from their "fucking" foundations with families still in side them, I don't know where one could "fucking" build to avoid a god damn "fucking" flood.

    And "common sense" would suggest that you get a god damn clue before making idiotic and stupid comments about something you obviously know very little about.

    Let me tell you something about what your version of common sense would result in..

    If we utilised your version of common sense and did not live anywhere that might flood for insurance purposes, the cost of steel would skyrocket around the world. Do you know why? Queensland provides more than half of the world's coal used to make steel. So the cost of industry and manufacturing would skyrocket.. Now think of everything you use in your day to day life that has steel and imagine if people refused to live near where the coal to make the steel came from and the coal mines shut down.. Getting a better picture? As it stands now, the coal industry in Queensland has been decimated and most of it shut down because everywhere is flooded.

    Agriculture.. Most of the land affected in Queensland is farm land and major regional towns and cities that exist to support those regions. Consider if people used your version of common sense and did not live there because they would not get insurance.. The land is rich agricultural land.. Which is why people live there to grow the food we eat. Now imagine if they thought like you and didn't live there..

    And that's just for starters..

    Now, your solution is to move a few miles away. Consider that 75% of the State is flooded.. An area bigger than France and Germany combined. Now according to you, they should all move a mile or two away so they don't get flooded again.. The mind actually baffles at the inane stupidity of your comment.

    You'll have to excuse me for being angry. I'm in a very bad mood at the moment and silly comments anger me even more.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2011
  12. Pinwheel Banned Banned

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  13. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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    Hi Bells,

    I'm so happy to hear you and your immediate family are safe and on dry land. And, luckily, the dreaded overnight high-tide wasn't as bad as it could have been. As I understand it, if they hadn't the foresight to build Wivenhoe damn then there'd be no Brisbane right now. It single-handedly stopped the city from being totally destroyed.

    To imagine, investment for the public good and ... without profit.. who'd have thunk it!?!?
     
  14. Bells Staff Member

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    We are safe. We found my husband's family finally and they are safe. That is what matters. Unfortunately there are many who do not have that comfort or luxury we are currently enjoying.

    As for Wivenhoe.. well.. no greater praise can be given about that hunk of concrete. And it did save us. Had it not been there, the water that crashed through the Valley would have come straight through instead of the partially controlled release we had. And the release had to happen as it was at maxed capacity. The rain we have had has been unbelievable. We had gone to visit my husband's aunt in the Valley last Friday.. And we'd driven over the dam to show the children the water release and it was amazing.. awe inspiring at the time. We never even imagined that what transpired in Toowoomba and the domino effect that had on the valley and then Brisbane later on would have even happened. When news broke about Toowoomba, my father in law was on the phone to my husband and his first comment was which side did the water come down on!!?? And that's when it dawned on us.. by which time the communities down below had already been wiped out. Then began the desperate wait for my father in law to hear word of his sister and her husband. And then, the next day we are told that it was coming for the city as well and all had less than a day to prepare. At least we had that warning. Those in Helidon (where my husband's aunt lived) and Grantham did not have that luxury. They only had a few minutes.

    I, like most of us here, am still trying to come to grips with it all.. to try to fully understand the extent of the damage the State has suffered these last few weeks. And it is moving southward, with NSW next in line as the northern end of that State is now flooding from the waters that have moved from Queensland.

    I have become slightly obsessed with the story of the 13 year old boy who begged his rescuer to take his little brother to safety first, before he lost his grip in the waters and drowned, along with his mother who let go to save him. I keep thinking what would have gone through that boy's head.. the fear and the terror.. The knowledge he couldn't swim. It is a bit all consuming. And I am not alone. We're all thinking of these people. That family who were trapped in their car as the news helicopter tracked them bobbing in the water.. the image of the 9 year old boy in the front seat hunching over and holding onto his face.. While he and his mother were found safe, his father, the driver of the car is missing and feared dead.. I think those images will stay with QLD'ers forever. What would have gone through the head of that 9 year old? Or the family being rescued in Ipswich and their 4 year old son fell out of the boat and drowned in the rushing flood waters.. I look at my soon to be 4 year old and I want to scream at the thought. And it could have happened to anyone. We think - we drove along those roads, went through those towns on Friday.. what if it had happened on Friday afternoon.. could have been us and my husband's family's fate.. And this thought is shared by those around me. The whole "it could have been anyone or us" thought that we all have about this.

    So when I hear comments about how everyone should have just built at a safe distance.. There was no safe distance for this. If you think about it, 75% of the State is virtually flood affected. It would then mean that it's only that 25% that's supposedly the safe distance.

    I think about when we were hit at The Gap. And the remnant of that mudslide, the sludge, debris, dirt, and raw sewage.. that was in what was left of my house.. That is now throughout so much of the CBD and in 75% of the State.. How the hell do you clean all that up? It took us 3 weeks just to shovel it (debris and mud) out of the house. And then came the actual clean up, the removal of plaster, the scooping out the dirt behind the walls, the scrubbing the floors, bricks outside, and all that comes with such a clean up. We didn't go back. We couldn't risk living there again. Now imagine that on a scale covering 75% of the State. It makes me want to just cry. And we all cry. Often. I look at my family and friends living with me at the moment, and I want to weep for them. They have lost everything. Their house, many of their belongings that they could not get out, some got out with just a few items of clothing and some papers.. Their children have lost all their toys and keepsakes (first lock of hair, first tooth, foot prints when they were born, etc).. all that is gone and can never ever be replaced. That is what makes me want to weep for them and they weep constantly. And then we say 'you're lucky'.. because it could have been much worse.

    They could have been one of those poor people who lived in the Valley and who were home during the school holidays, with their children stuck inside from the rain, and hit by a wall of water over 7m high and their house picked up and taken with it.. And the knowledge that they'd all die as they floated in that water until the house disintegrated around them. I think it's astounding that we can consider ourselves lucky that we've lost everything we own.
     
  15. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    To me anyone , like those in New Orleans as an example, that wants to rebuild their city shouldn't be allowed to do so after it has been devastated by 3 hurricanes over 50 years. The cost to rebuild was over 50 billion this time and its not done yet so even more billions are going to be used there. The engineers told everyone last time they rebuilt that the city would be safe and look what happened. Now they are telling everyone the same thing again, so we will wait and watch when a category 5 hurricane hits New Orleans again as to how this new engineering has done but the problem is we won't know until the worse happens. As to correcting the problem I thought the way to go was to relocate the cities residents to Shreveport and rebuild their homes anew there. That's about 15 miles north of where they live now so they could always be by water. I'd think that would solve the problem much better than letting residents back into an area that is constantly going to have hurricanes hit it and cause catastrophic damages no matter what they do to prevent damages.

    Now as to where you live, you could try and find ways to prevent the floods from causing so much damage like the people in Holland who were constantly being flooded as well until they built a new series of movable dams that hold back the water. I really do not know that much about the topgraphy of where you live but something should be done in order to try and stop such problems if can be done.
     
  16. desi Valued Senior Member

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    1,616
    If they were concerned about it they would do as you suggest or build their houses on stilts like the smart people do in Louisiana. Many people who live by rivers seem to have a battered wife-like syndrome when it comes to inevitable flooding.
     
  17. Bells Staff Member

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    Ermm the majority of the houses are on stilts in the Brisbane area.

    For many of those houses in the flood zone, you can only see the tops of their roof.

    Brisbane has not had a flood since 1974. A dam was built to protect the city after that event and it's worked. The rain event that Queensland has had for the last month or so could not be built for or even imagined. Toowoomba is not a flood zone, nor is it an area that one would consider prone to "inevitable flooding". Quite the contrary. The shock that the State felt when it happened in Toowoomba was not just because it happened at all, but because of where it happened.

    If you have never been there, it would be difficult to explain. The raging torrent that started in Toowoomba and then tore through the Valley below and then hit the dam which protected the city.. Well Toowoomba is at the top of a mountain range. Building houses on stilts isn't going to offer protection to anyone in the path of what came down that valley.

    Houses on stilts in that Valley were picked up by the waters and they floated away before they fell apart or sunk, with the occupants still inside. Other houses that did not float away, houses also on stilts, had the rushing water lapping at the roof, where the people who'd managed to escape had sought refuge in.

    I'll give you an example:

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    This photo is from a part of the country side where my husband's aunt and uncle lived. The lived in a two storey house.. a classic Queenslander house, very high up on stilts. The contents of the upper storey of their house.. well there's nothing left in it. It was washed away. That is how high the water got. It lapped at their attic space, where they had retreated to.

    Saying "smart people" build on stilts.. really? You think a house on stilts is going to somehow protect you from that kind of flood? When the second and third floor of high rise buildings are flooded, then I don't think building a house on stilts is going to somehow protect you from this kind of rain event we had.

    Seriously.. Could you do some research before you post?

    Or read what was posted in the thread?

    The city has a dam to protect it from floods. Quite literally a dam. In the last month, that dam was releasing large volumes of water on a daily basis - because of the ridiculous amount of rain we had. Minor flooding in fields below it and that was it. No houses destroyed or damaged and the city and its surrounding suburbs were fine - wet from the weather and waterlogged after over a month of rain.. but you get that.

    We then come to last weekend where a rain event set in over the South East of the State. At one point, one town on the Sunshine Coast received over 800mls of rain in less than 24 hours. Where we live outside of Brisbane, the rain was so bad we could barely make out our backyard. It was torrential. The dam was full already, and its flood storage ability (or flood mitigation) was quickly filling up. Yes, that's right, the very very big dam also has extra room to cope with any flood water that would normally flow down the valley and hit the CBD below and to the east of it. So the dam is virtually twice the required size, specifically to deal with flood events.

    Consider it was at 100% capacity for normal usage - 20 months ago it was at 16% - we were in extreme drought... but with the extreme rain we've had in the South East of the State (and the whole state, 75% of which is now in flood), the dam and the other minor dams around it filled up. Wivenhoe makes up the larger of the dams in the area - and there are others around it to share the load of the water. It is a massive water system.

    The rain keeps falling and the minor flood up the valley from the dam - that water flows into the dam - and it continues to fill. On Friday when we went over it, it was at 140%, if I remember correctly. Its max capacity, including flood water storage is 225% (100% for consumption, 125% is for flood mitigation). Since Friday we had the massive rain event. So the ground became even more soaked and the water could no longer be absorbed - after months of continuous rain with an extreme La Nina event. That water was flowing into the dams. Which protected the city.

    Then comes the rain event in Toowoomba (large regional town on top of a mountain) which caused the ridiculous flash flood that you have probably seen in the news. Massive wall of water broke out of the tiny creek that flows across the top of the mountain and went through the business district of Toowoomba, killing and injuring those in its path. It all then roared down the mountain and into the Valley above the Wivenhoe dam. It took out the towns and villages in its way (consider as well that water was already flowing into the dam from the run off of the valley itself - after over a month of solid rain). By the next morning, we received reports that the dam was at 190% and rising and they estimated that they'd be at 200% by the end of the next day. That is the volume of water that came down that valley combined with the torrential rain that continued to fall.

    The Wivenhoe dam, that had saved the City of Brisbane up to that point had to release more water for its own structural integrity. Otherwise the water would have been flowing over the top of its walls - quite literally. So they started increasing the controlled releases, which would cause the flooding we know happened.. and consider also that the valley below the dam, heading into Ipswich and the city, was already water logged and suffering from minor field flooding due to the rain that had fallen already and was continuing to fall, filling the Brisbane River even more. On top of that, we had King Tides (higher than normal tides) which pushed the river levels up even higher as it came through the suburbs and Brisbane.

    If that dam had not been there, well.. it would have been a catastrophe. There would be few alive now if that dam had not been there. I am not over dramatising it. That is the role of the dam. To protect the city from a flood catastrophe. The catastrophe that happened in Toowoomba (on top of a mountain) and in the valley below are actually above the dam, so they sit further to the West of the dams themselves.

    But nothing could predict the rain events we've had. No one has seen anything like it and lasting for as long as it did. The low that dumped all that water on us was not a fast moving system. It quite literally stalled over the South East of the State of Queensland and the result is what you're seeing on TV in the last couple of days. And even from before that, the State was 75% flooded. As I pointed out to you earlier, the area flooded is large than France and Germany combined. And if people don't live there or build there for the next 50 years (as you appear to be suggesting), then the steel industry stalls in its tracks (Queensland provides over 50% of the world's coal used to smelt steel). As well as sugar, wheat, rice and cotton - with wool as well.

    I understand what you are saying. I honestly do. But you cannot forsee these kinds of events. This rain even is phenomenal. It was freaky. It rained so much that the rain gauge in the back yard (most have them since we'd been in drought for so long) stopped working. Most have water tanks on their proteries - again, because of the draught.. They are all full. As in full to the point where the water is coming out the top. And these tanks are huge.

    You give an example of moving 15miles north or elsewhere to avoid the flood. Which direction?

    I don't think you quite comprehend the issue here. 75% of the State - or 75% of 715,309 sq miles [1,852,642 sq km] - is currently flooded. To use your powers of deduction, no one should be allowed to rebuild on 75% of the State for over 50 years without any sort of flood.. Which would kill the mining and agricultural industry, not to mention the thourism industry as well.
     
  18. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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    Funny enough, I used to wonder why no one had basements and cellars in Australia. It always seems so odd to me having lived in MI where we have VERY wet ground. Well, now I know.

    RE: living near rivers.
    Civilizations grew out of major rivers systems - many major cities are situated on rivers, from Rome or London to cities along the Ganges in India or Yellow river in China. Maybe it's economical or maybe it's a part of our psyche?

    That aside, think about it, where CAN you live where you're not in some sort of danger of a wildfire, hurricane, tsunami, tornado, earthquake, flooding, volcanic eruption, blizzard, heatwave, drought, etc.... pretty much no where is perfectly safe. We do the best we can and in this case some very smart people made sure that a dam was build that saved a city of millions.

    What I would like to know, if possible, is the history behind the construction of the Wivenhoe dam? Find out who championed it's building and who didn't (and importantly, are those people IN politics any longer)?
     
  19. Anti-Flag Pun intended Registered Senior Member

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    Not to state the obvious but it's practicality. Rivers(and particularly river mouths) make the best places for highly populated and fledgling cities - fresh water, good ground for crops and plenty of wild food too, trade, often lying in valleys so better shelter from the weather, and coastline also tends to have better climate. They tend to have enough clear ground to build on whilst also not requiring massive amount of building materials be imported.
    Of course modern cities require other natural resources and we often build smaller cities to extract these and an industry builds up around them, but it still requires all of the above to be successful.

    Anyway, on topic - Bells, stay safe and don't tickle or tease the crocs.

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  20. Bells Staff Member

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    Snakes. There are snakes.

    I saw a brown snake in my sister in law's kitchen today. Curled up in the debris.

    :bawl:

    A large, fat brown snake. Just lying there.

    There was some incoherent babbling from me, a scream of terror or more and then crying and more incoherent babbling as I slid my way through the mud out the door and ended up across the street.. Was not one of my finest moments, but yeah.. was a brown snake.. a bite from which could be quite deadly. :bawl:
     
  21. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

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    If I ever get the chance to visit Australia in the future, I'm sure it will turn out to be much like visiting my father in Georgia, US.

    Obviously I'm a Brit, the worst thing we've got here is the Poisonous Adder, but it's pretty rare nowadays and maybe a few bats that "might" carry Rabies (and maybe the odd badger, rare).

    So visiting a new part of the world generates a rather interesting quandary; "What is out to kill me? which bug?, which insect?, which snake? which plant? etc"

    Australia being renowned for having the largest number of venomous snakes for country (and the blighter's swim). you can guarantee that would definitely be something I would be cautious of. So while you might think that your momentary candidness might be unheard of (but to be honest I doubt anyone would blame you), I probably would of screamed louder myself.

    I know my father probably would of blasted at it with a 12 gauge, even if it was in the kitchen. (I just hope there is enough supplies of Anti-venom circulating out there and that during the clean up you have a snake patroller.)
     
  22. Anti-Flag Pun intended Registered Senior Member

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    Indiana Jones was scared of snakes, so you're in good company.

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  23. spacemansteve Not enough brain space Registered Senior Member

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    G'day Bells,

    Its been a while since I posted but I saw your thread and had to

    Good to hear you and your family are safe! Especially considering the devastation in the Lockyer Valley. My Wife and I live in Ipswich but luckily in one of the higher parts of town and weren't flooded.

    I was up on holidays in Mission Beach (About halfway between Cairns and Townsville) and were supposed to arrive home on Monday. Unfortunately due to the flooding in Rockhampton and Gympie we weren't able to drive back down the Bruce Highway and inland wasn't looking any better. When I heard about the flash flooding in the Lockyer Valley and Toowoomba i booked myself on the next available plane to Brisbane to get home and man the fort knowing that Ipswich and Brisbane would be next.

    Got back to Brisbane but was unable to get home as it had been isolated by the flood waters and spent a few nights with family on the North side.

    Now that the waters are gradually receding and the immediate danger is over i've been spending the past couple of days down the road (Only about 400m from my house) helping neighbours with the clean up.

    Now that my little story is over, i'm going to rant for a bit so feel free to ignore.

    The Ipswich City Council have been the worst managers of this crisis! They have failed to clean/reopen some of the most important arterial roads in the Ipswich region (Our version of an arterial is essentially anything that crosses the river or provides access to the various suburbs of Ipswich). There is a road just around the corner of my house that provides direct access to the CBD along with many others that are only just reopening or are still closed. Subsequently the traffic in the area was ridiculous as heavy trucks, volunteers and the annoying sightseers tried to get from the Warrego Highway, through the CBD and onto the Centenary Highway in order to get access to Brisbane or go the opposite way.

    For those who aren't sure of the local area, The Warrego is a major highway that provides access to the Toowoomba range/Lockyer Valley, whilst skipping the Ipswich CBD. It was cut due to flooding and the only way into Brisbane was via the Ipswich CBD (Which was also closed for sometime) and then the Centenary Highway. The other major highways in this area include the Ipswich Motorway which was cut, and the Cunningham Highway which was also cut in some places.

    Now I will retract all the above statements if these roads are still closed due to engineering/structural reasons but no information is being provided to us... Which leads me on to my next rant... The lack of information coming from the Council. They provided a brief list of roads that would be closed on their website before the flooding started, but not to the Department of Main Roads. Subsequently any roads that have been reopened are not published and people are still driving down main roads only to be turned back.

    I'm a big fan of Brisbane Mayor Cambell Newmans clean up plan and his emphasis on mobility, but am gobsmacked but the inability to see the same importance here in ipswich by our local members.

    I am very gratefull that my house was spared inundation but I just can't believe how hard the Ipswich City Council are making it for those effected to get back to some sense of normality as best they can considering the circumstances.

    Rant over
     

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