Floods in Eastern Australia Leave Thousands Stranded

Published on March 14th, 2012 | by

by Alvina Lopez

Cattle on high ground during Australia floods

Just one month after southeastern Australia marked the tragic anniversary of the disastrous floods in early 2011, new floodwaters are threatening Queensland and have already stranded over 15,000 people in New South Wales.

Heavy rains in January last year inundated much of the state of Victoria, with catastrophic damage in the Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley areas. Recovering from the floods has been an arduous and painful process for affected eastern Australians — the floods killed 35 people and destroyed over 30,000 homes and businesses, culminating in over AU$1bn (£650m) in damages.

The 2011 Victoria floods were the worst ever recorded in 130 years for the area. Low-lying and flat, the area was vulnerable to flooding, but had been spared such terrible natural disasters for over a century.

A year after the floods, citizens of affected areas, including Brisbane, paused the still on-going rebuilding of the flooded cities and towns to commemorate the devastation and all those who died in the flash floods.

In February of this year the rains began again with frightening intensity, though this time further north, resurfacing the haunting images of last year’s “inland sea.”

Eastern and northeastern Australia annually report small flooding throughout the flat, wheat-growing region, but the floods earlier this year are worst in over 60 years in some areas. Relentless rain quickly stranded over 15,000 people in New South Wales, forcing thousands of others to relocate to higher ground until the floods receded.

Towns downstream of rivers, particularly the Mehi and Namoi rivers, were hit especially hard, and were left isolated by the water without food or medical supplies, and in many cases without shelter.

Dozens of flood rescues sent by the State Emergency Service carried supplies to the stranded areas, providing aid to citizens cut-off and in danger, as with one group in Moree that had been trapped on the roof of a shed and was surrounded by snakes swimming in the water when the helicopter rescue team arrived.

New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell said the affected areas, “from the air [look] like an inland sea. As you fly over the centre of a town there are streets that look like canals that have more relevance to Venice than north-western New South Wales.”

Last year’s massive floods in Queensland wreaked havoc on the state’s infrastructure, dealing extensive damage to crops and halting coal production. The devastation from the flooding this year is still being estimated, but over 500 homes and businesses alone were inundated, which does not bode well for other vital economic structures, such as wheat production, in the area.

Alvina Lopez is a freelance writer and blog junkie, who blogs about accredited online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: alvina.lopez @gmail.com.

Cattle in Australia flood via Shutterstock


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