Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Brisbane Floods 2011

January 12, 2011 - 3:46pm

I cannot believe the scale of the natural disaster that is unfolding in my home town of Brisbane and regional areas of Queensland at the moment.

Ipswich flooding - waters have peaked at over 20m. Over 3000 people evacuated

Reports say that the next 24-36 hours will be the most critical as residents anxiously await the flood peak that is expected to hit around 4am on Thursday 13th January. Word has it that water levels will rise to similar proportions and possibly exceed that of the 1974 Brisbane floods, which saw the Brisbane River peak to 5.5m, breaking its banks and flooding surrounding CBD areas. 1974 was the year that saw 14 people lose their lives from drowning and total damage was estimated at over AU$200 million. For thousands of people, they lost everything they had and the process of rebuilding in the aftermath was painstaking and slow. As a result of this disaster, Wivenhoe Dam was built as a control measure to minimise the effects of flooding if it was to ever occur again. It was designed to hold 1.45 megalitres of additional water for flood mitigation (225% capacity) and all seemed reasonably well for another 37 years...

On 11th January 2011, the Wivenhoe Dam levels reached its highest level ever recorded at close to 192% of max capacity. Being an embankment dam, there is a risk that if water spills over the crest it could erode the dam walls and potentially fail. As a result of this, controlled release of the dam occured yesterday afternoon at 1pm to relieve the swollen flood storage compartments so as to create space for further predicted rainfall and inflows from nearby dams and connecting rivers.

These last two days have been truly harrowing, terrifying and stressful for Brisbane residents. The generation who lived through the '74 floods knew the scale of damage to be expected while the younger generation waited anxiously for news updates. Emotions are running high. At 2:10pm yesterday, it was chaos in Brisbane's Central Business District (CBD) as the mighty Brisbane River, which the city is situated on, broke its banks after days of continuous heavy rain. Road closures occured in nearby areas and the CBD was evacuated. Power remains cut off to thousands of businesses and homes in the area since early this morning, leaving the normally bustling district uncharacteristically calm and silent.

The Goodwill Bridge - waters are creeping higher and higher by the minute

The normally busy Eagle St Pier

Since 1pm this afternoon, all public transport into the CBD has been withdrawn as numerous riverside suburbs and major roads are quickly becoming inundated. Supermarkets are running amok as shoppers rush to stock up on everything from bread, bottled water and tinned food to long-life milk and apples. Helicopter roof-top rescues have ocurred and pontoons and yachts are afloat in the middle of the river after breaking off from the banks. Iconic Brisbane restaurant Drift Cafe, formerly known as Oxley's on the River, has completely submerged. Inner city suburbs are sinking fast. Yet we are all still bracing for the worst that is to come.

Sinking suburb of Rosalie - the only way to access homes is via canoes

The wheel of Brisbane at Southbank with riverside boardwalk completely inundated

At this point in time, the River is continuing to rise (4.6m) and Brisbane City is in lock down. No public transport, no electricity, no open roads. Authorities are urging people to stay at home if possible or to evacuate to higher-set areas if your area is likely to flood. Waking up to sunshine and a typical summer's day left many unconvinced but light showers have started to resume and the sky is starting to look a little cloudy. I'm sure the emotions surging through everyone at the moment are much the same. Great fears for the uncertainty and of the unknown.

The Southbank Parklands swimming area (left) - walk ways (right) now completely covered by floodwater

To my fellow Queenslanders, family and friends - please, please, please stay safe. With our determination, defiance and strength - we will get through this horrific and distressing ordeal. And we will prevail. To the emergency personnel and SES rescue teams, thank you for braving the storms, floodwaters and putting your lives at risk to save others. What you are doing is beyond amazing.

To donate to the flood relief appeal: or phone 1800 219 028

Stories of devastation are starting to emerge:
  • Read about the parents who pushed their 4 children to the safety of the roof as they got swept away by ravaging floodwaters here
  • Read about Baby Callum Jack Wieland, who is living proof of hope amongst despair here.

I will continue to post updates about the situation as able. Just thought I would let my friends from around the world know that I am safe and my family are well. Thanks for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers.


  1. sweetie..i hope it goes away soon...
    are you ok??safe???

  2. My beautiful Vik! Yes my family, friends & I are all safe.... I'm so thankful for this!! I've never seen such terrible things happen in my hometown before. It has been a real nightmare :( but thank you for visiting and showing you care. I hope you are well! xx


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