This is how the week developed since my last post on Wednesday morning. (Feels longer ago than that, but experiencing novel events has that effect.)
There were plenty of warnings on Tuesday evening that the Brisbane flood could be very big – equal to, or even slightly higher, than the 1974 flood. However, since I had been told by long term residents that the group of shops in which my office is located had only taken water up to the car park (which rises about 1 – 2 meters above the street level) in 1974, I wasn’t too anxious. Indeed, the Council flood maps on the internet that evening indicated that the local knowledge was right.
However, on Wednesday morning, Lord Mayor Campbell Newman said on TV that they had revised the maps overnight, and people should check again if their homes or businesses could be affected. And yes, when I checked, the flood line had been moved just enough to indicate that my office/shop area were in danger.
I was not much encouraged when, getting to the office at about 8.15 am, the artificial lake within about 30 metres of my shops (and which had not been there in 1974) had already flooded across the road as far as the eye could see, and this was still 12 – 18 hours before the predicted peak. One house on the far side of the lake already looked to have a couple of meters of water over its ground floor.
It seemed prudent to remove the computers and take them home. This didn’t take too long, but then nearby residents mentioned that the road between me and my home, which I already knew was cut in one direction I could take, was now getting inundated (via the backflowing stormwater drains) in the other direction. If I waited too long I might not be able to get home at all.
I therefore left in a hurry with a lot of things left on the office floor. In any event I had to go pick up my mother from her retirement village, which I had been told was going to be evacuated as a precaution as well.
As I drove away from the office, there was quite a lot of activity in some lakeside houses to get furniture onto vehicles. Further along, I could see water over the road at the top of a side street which I knew led down closer to the lake. Many expensive houses down there would clearly already be inundated, and it was only about 9 am.
The main road just a little further along did indeed have a foot or so of water over it, but only for a short distance. I went and collected my mother, noticing the water was already down the far end of her street.
I got her home, which was already hosting another family (friends of ours with children) who had left their home in another flood prone suburb across the river and stayed with us on Tuesday night.
At about 11.30am, I drove back to see if I could get to the office, but the road was now covered with about 2 – 3 feet of water and the police were there, really only wanting to let residents through. It was not worth the risk.
So by midday I was back home, watching TV and wondering why coverage seemed very centred on inner city suburbs (such as Milton and Rosalie) and then leapt over to Ipswich and Goodna. I did feel slightly indignant that my already well flooded suburban area was not rating much of a mention.
Around 2 pm the power went off and stayed off for about 24 hours. I had telephone calls from friends near the office who said water had started coming up out of the stormwater drains in front of the carpark.
As Australian readers would know, the flood peak overnight on Wednesday was about 1 to 1.5 m less than they had predicated. In fact, I think by Wednesday afternoon, they knew that the river at Ipswich had peaked well under the forecast, so I did relax a little. Still, I was very glad to be able to get to the office on Thursday morning to see that, as in 1974, the flood water stopped in the car park driveway. If the peak had been as forecast, it would have been a very close call as to whether water would have entered the building.
The number of houses around my area which were flooded has surprised me, particularly around the lake, and in another area around a golf course. I’m not sure when they started selling lakeside land, and it may well have been before the Council restricted building homes on levels below the 1974 flood. But certainly, this would have been the first time since then that they faced a major flood, and I expect that many were surprised that the lake was capable of such a rise. There are certain other streets in the suburbs near mine which I am sure would only contain houses built since 1980, yet have dozens of houses flooded. I am sure there will be some questioning of the Council flood level advisory maps after this.
On Thursday afternoon, when the water had already dropped by a meter or so, I was able to get around a bit and take some photos. The quality may not be great, but clicking might make them a bit bigger:
One of the main local roads; houses down the street on both sides had plenty of water through them.
The road along my Mum’s retirement village. I was told houses down the far end had at least a meter of water through them. (You can also see the "high water"mud mark nearly half way up on the row of bushes on the left.) The retirement village was spared, again with water just reaching the car park entrance.
On the left, well under the water, is the entrance to a boat ramp, playground and picnic area, none of which (including the roof of the toilet block, on the higher part of picnic area) could be seen. I think that’s the rear wheels of a car floating upside down near one of the light poles.
Next, my inner anti-sporting grump was not too shocked to see the Little Athletics club house and grounds, which I have been a reluctant attendee with my daughter on Friday nights last term, has had a make over:
Now for the best big flood scenes near me:
Highway in foreground, with shops in the distance. Closer detail to be seen in the next photo (remember, the water had already dropped by this stage):
And for last, the difference a day makes in a flood. Here’s a photo from roughly the same position late this afternoon:
I know the flood effects for me was nothing compared to all those who did have homes and businesses under water, and who may remain without power for days yet. Still, one brush with a flood this size is enough to satisfy any curiosity about what it’s like to be near a natural disaster.