Finally, a little good news
As the state drowns, the nation mourns
Death hangs in air as search for bodies starts
Survivors count the cost and search for victims
Racing steward washed away with his car

As dawn broke over Brisbane this morning, it was clear that the policy of mass evacuations had worked, and that the waters had not reached the heights predicted the day before.

The Brisbane River is still edging up in places, but the reading of 4.45 metres in the CBD at 4am was a metre below that expected. A further peak, coinciding with a mild high tide, is expected in the next few hours.

It was still enough to drown thousands of houses in suburbs 50 kilometres apart, and tear some buildings along the river line to pieces.

Frantic sandbagging was underway in Merthyr and New Farm last night, with the army called in to help a battalion of local residents protect their suburb, and the precautions seemed to have worked. The floodwaters rose no higher there than they reached at 9pm last night. But that was still enough to drown hundreds of homes.

On the streets early this morning, the atmosphere was almost jovial at times, with much of the hard work now done until the waters recede.

“I’m like a lot of other people – I’ve lost a lot but I’ve kept my life,” said Sharyn Avery, as she surveyed the roof of her grocery shop in the suburb of West End, which was enveloped by almost two metres of brown water, and her flooded house next door.

About 1000 people in West End evacuated on Tuesday as news of the torrent began to filter through.

“A bloke who worked in the Premier’s Department was just walking past and he said the water would get this far and we should get out,” Ms Avery said. “I’ve still got all my furniture inside, and probably 100,000 worth of stock in the shop.”

As the waters lapped their doorsteps, many residents of the inner city accepted the inevitable and kept their spirits high.

Office workers and students worked side by side with soldiers and police sandbagging homes and trying to move cars. After dark, many impromptu street parties sprang up, and some residents watched their homes go under with a beer in their hands.

“”We’ve been here about 10 hours and the water hasn’t changed much,” said Pip Tenner, who was sitting on a street corner in West End with a few friends.

“There are whole streets of houses under the water there, and it’s about eight foot deep or so.”

Hundreds of residents were evacuated to the Brisbane Showgrounds, and some will try to return and survey the damage today.

Water around Milton, Paddington and Rosalie was filthy in places, with garbage, smashed timber and even whole fridges bobbing on the brown tide that filled ordinary streets. The Lang Park sports stadium was underwater, as was the XXXX Brewery, but the latter still managed to keep a large electric sign on its roof going all night with a generator.

Power was cut to tens of thousands of homes and businesses in the central city area. As police moved out into the suburbs, people began entering taped-off areas of the central business district and picking their way through water, which was up half a metre deep along some of the city’s main streets, including Alice, Ann and Creek streets.
A huge section of walkway that had been anchored in New Farm, just east of the CBD, was ripped loose and caused the temporary closure of the city’s easternmost bridge as it was pushed downstream.

Residents in many places without power rang radio stations asking where they could find food or ice for refrigeration.

Three men have been charged with looting after police caught them allegedly trying to steal boats from the Brisbane River.

Ben Cubby January 13, 2011

Source: Brisbane Times,

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