We have had a wet couple of years coming from a ten year drought to severe flooding, dams from 15% full to over 195% full, at the peak of their capacity to hold back floods. October we had twice the normal rain fall, November was about average, and in December we had three times the normal rainfall. January started as the previous year ended, wet and more wet a third of the years rain in 11 days.
On Tuesday 10th at our place we had 120 mm of rain, a heavy, heavy rain but not the worst we have seen, however we only got a third of the rain that some districts further west received. We were shocked to see on the evening news the terrifying pictures of the Toowoomba and the Lockyer valley as an 8 meter wall of water washed through the cities and towns washing away everything in its path, cars, trucks, bridges and of course people were swept as if corks in a drain down the streets and across the country side. We watched in shock and were thankful that was a long way from our place and we were okay.
Everything at our place was already sodden, simple things such as running the lawn mower on the grass is impossible as the ground is saturated and it bogged. Our place, it is like a swamp, even our boots we wear to keep our feet dry have had enough and let the water through now.
On Wednesday 11th we took one of our sons and his family to the airport, a sixty kilometre drive south of our place, as we took the main road from our suburb to the motorway we noticed that water was high on the side of the road and as we crossed the Caboolture River on the Bruce Highway our major North – South express-way the river was up very high and the paddocks on the side were full of water. The Caboolture river is not a long river and we did not expect that to be a serious issue, however the Pine River, which is the next major waterway is the out flow from a Brisbane city water supply dam and hugely bigger that the Caboolture, perhaps that would be an issue?
The trip into the airport was tense but okay, traffic on the road going in our direction south was light but much heavier coming North. We had heard that the Bruce Highway was cut north of Caboolture, that is our exit and we surmised it must be a fair way north of our exit and we would be perfectly okay coming home.
While waiting to see our kids off at the airport we got a call from my oldest son to say he had set out to follow us to the airport an hour later to put his daughter on a later flight and he could not get to the airport as our local road, Bribie Island road was flooded and road blocks were in place. The two alternatives which is south and north on back roads were also closed, effectively Ningi and Bribie Island were cut off. He had returned home and I had advised him to rebook his daughter in a couple of days time.
Within minutes of having this call we got an SMS message from the SES (State Emergency Services) telling us to move to higher ground as there was a danger of flash flooding in our area. Our place sits near the banks of an insignificant water way called the Ningi Creek, the prospect of it flooding has always been in the back of my mind. We told oldest son to ensure he had his families passports and documents and to stay put until he got further word, we organized a friends place for him to move to if the need should arise.
It was a disturbing thought that my oldest son had a phone call to the house by the SES that was a repeat of our earlier message, it was obvious the situation was getting more serious. He rang to tell us this and to also tell us that the Caboolture River was now running over the road and the Bruce Highway was now cut both North and South of our exit, this meant we could not get home.
My plan was that after we saw our kids and grand kids off at the airport we would head into the city and I would pick up a new Laptop from the Unisys Douglas street office. I had time to set this up prior going to Japan for to work on some education with our distributor. With the roads closed to go home, I decided I might as well still do this as there was a chance the roads would open after high tide was over around 2pm in the afternoon.
When we headed out towards the city we heard on the radio that the city was going under, the Brisbane river was expected to burst its banks at around 2pm, I looked at the clock it was just after 1pm. I carried on for a short way and then heard that Douglas Street was underwater. Oh well that plan was over, time to head north and wait for roads to open.
The blue cross on the pictures is our Douglas street office at around 2pm when I was due to pick up the laptop. Note the water was low at this point, it got much worse in the next 24 hours.
It took six and a half hours to travel the normal 40 minutes home, it was spooky on parts of the Bruce Highway, instead of six lanes of traffic thundering along there was only a very few cars. It was like the world had ended, and reminded me of a Neville Shute novel set in Australia called “On the Beach” a story about Australia after a fictional nuclear war.
By 6 pm water had subsided enough to get through to Caboolture however we still could not go down the Bribie Island road, finally by talking to fellow travellers we discovered one of the back roads had just opened. Off we went again and finally got home around 7pm.
It was only getting home we realised just how bad the floods were, coming home there was deep water everywhere, every river and waterway was raging, our own town of Caboolture was under water and cut off. Watching things unfold on Television that evening we realised that this was a significant event and worse was to come. In the morning I canned my trip to Japan, there was going to more bad weather coming and the damage done is going to make life very difficult over the next few weeks.
On Thursday 12th around 10am the Internet went out with no word on when we would get it back, both the land and mobile telephone networks are flaky and Vodaphone sent notices showing they would be off the air in major places. The rail services for the south-eastern part of the state were cancelled, literally hundreds of roads are closed, Truck drivers in Queensland have been forced to a standstill, with Premier Anna Bligh declaring 75 percent of the state a disaster zone. She stated the devastation was of “post-war proportions”, and broke down as she described the damage to Queensland communities.
While the airport remains open only limited public transport to and from Brisbane Airport is available.
Right now there are 119,000 homes without power, 11,900 homes have been flooded and another 14,700 partially flooded. The houses affected are mainly in the city, the riverside suburbs of St Lucia, West End and Graceville, and in low-lying Rocklea. There are also 2500 businesses fully inundated and another 2500 partially flooded
Thirteen people dead and over seventy missing. We have been told to stay home and only travel as necessary as the infrastructure is required for Emergency Services.
Because the trucks are not running fresh food is in short supply, we were unable to buy bread yesterday and Ali went out early today and managed to get milk and bread, but not brands or types of her choice just what was available and of course in the flooded areas the supermarkets and business are closed. Drinking water is in short supply and we have been to told to conserve it. Petrol is in short supply again because the trucks have stopped running.
It is likely that we will get more significant rain this month, however spirits are high and we know we just have to work through it.