Tuesday, January 11, 2011

 Australia's 2010 Summer Flood Disaster

 "Today is very significant, tomorrow is bad, 
and Thursday is going to be devastating
 for the residents and businesses concerned."
 Brisbane Lord Mayor - Jan 11, 2010

Australian summers normally deliver bush fire stories. Today, Australians have watched in despair as news unfolds of a flood which may end up being the worst in over 100 years. After weeks of record breaking rains and catchment areas significantly saturated, last night's northern deluge had nowhere to go. Floodwaters soon turned into inland tsunamis, (click here for clip) and vast areas of Queensland now resemble sprawling lakes. Many towns are isolated with roads closed and locals are in for a tense night. Most devastated are the towns of Toowoomba and Ipswich, while the Queensland capital, Brisbane, teeters on the brink while she watches her river spill over its banks and threaten low lands including the central business district.

Evacuation centres are expected to fill during the night and residents are encouraged to share their high ground with those who may have already fled their homes. As bad as it looks right now, authorities predict a worse scenario when the swollen Brisbane River reaches its peak and collides with the 3pm king tide tomorrow afternoon.

Rescue attempts will continue into the night as we watch the death toll nudge 10, with 78 people formally missing. There are no doubts these numbers will increase. Stories of stranded families are beamed onto our televisions, including the plight of one expectant mother, due to deliver her 3rd baby tomorrow, trapped in her flood surrounded home. Perhaps neighbours will assist this family as this natural disaster washes over them during what should be one of the happiest days of their lives.

For those of us in the south, it's difficult to watch our northern neighbours brace themselves for more tragedy and trauma. Grief and counselling teams are being deployed to the evacuation centres to uphold those who have watched their entire lives wash away. Residents are being encouraged to look out for their elderly neighbours and ensure the vulnerable are assisted.

Today's day long coverage has reminded me of Flood Sufferings by Australian artist Abbey Altson. He captured a similar picture in 1890 of a flood stricken community caring for a new mother and her baby. Just as in colonial days, Australians will once again reach out to snatch the desperate from trouble. For the lucky ones who have only lost possessions, it will take months, and some calculate even years, but families will lean on each other to reclaim life as it was ... only yesterday. Sadly for others, the losses will never be recouped.

Please pray for those shattered by this devastation as well as those who will help carry the burden of rescue and shelter.

Then I called on the name of the LORD: “LORD, save me!” Psalm 116:4