26 December 2011

    [RE-WIND 2011][#4] Down Under Water

    High intensity rainfall between 12–14 January 2011 caused major flooding across much of the western and central parts of the Australian state of Victoria. Several follow-up heavy rainfall events including Tropical Low Yasi caused repeated flash flooding in affected areas in early February in many of the communities affected by January's floods.

    Many of the towns were previously affected by floods in September 2010, however the 2011 event was more severe, affecting at least four times as many properties with thousands of evacuations being called for by the State Emergency Service. As of 18 January, more than 51 communities had been affected by the floods. A total of over 1,730 properties had been flooded. Over 17,000 homes lost their electricity supply. The floods forced VicRoads to close hundreds of roads; and train services were also disrupted. The floods devastated farms with 51,700 hectares of pasture and 41,200 hectares of field crops flooded and 6,106 sheep killed. The Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Victorian Farmers Union initially estimated that damages would amount to hundreds of millions of dollars, however the Department of Primary Industries later calculated a damage bill of up to A$ 2 billion.

    Werribee River in flood 14 Jan 2011
    Kevin Parkyn, a senior forecaster with the Bureau of Meteorology said "Victoria is experiencing one of its worst flood events in its history" after "a week in which rainfall totals have been smashed in parts of Victoria". Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Terry Ryan said "It's the worst flood in western Victoria in their history as far as our records go in terms of the depth of water and the number of places affected". The Premier of Victoria, Ted Ballieu has described it as "one of the biggest floods in the state's history".

    A series of floods hit Australia, beginning in December 2010, primarily in the state of Queensland including its capital city, Brisbane. The floods forced the evacuation of thousands of people from towns and cities. At least 70 towns and over 200,000 people were affected. Damage initially was estimated at around A$1 billion. The estimated reduction in Australia's GDP is about A$30 billion.

    Three-quarters of the state of Queensland was declared a disaster zone. Communities along the Fitzroy and Burnett Rivers were particularly hard hit, while the Condamine, Ballone and Mary Rivers recorded substantial flooding. An unexpected flash flood raced through Toowoomba's central business district before devastating communities in the Lockyer Valley. A few days later thousands of houses in Ipswich and Brisbane were inundated as the Brisbane River rose and Wivenhoe Dam used a considerable proportion of its flood mitigation capacity. Volunteers were quick to offer assistance and sympathy was expressed from afar. A large mobilisation of the Australian Defence Force was activated and a relief fund created. The head of the recovery taskforce was Major General Michael Slater, DSC, AM, CSC. The Queensland Reconstruction Authority was formed to co-ordinate the rebuilding program beyond the initial taskforce and a Commission of Inquiry established to investigate all matters related to the floods.

    The 2010–2011 floods killed 35 people in Queensland. As of 26 January, an additional nine people were missing. The state's coal industry was particularly hard hit. The Queensland floods were followed by the 2011 Victorian floods which saw more than fifty communities in western and central Victoria also grapple with significant flooding.



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