Queensland floods inundate Brisbane as death toll rises
From Catholic Mission
|A police 4WD goes door to door|
The enormity of the month-long deluge that has swept through north-eastern Australia has left 75 per cent of Queensland flood affected - an area five times larger than the United Kingdom.
The plight of the flood victims in Queensland has moved Pope Benedict XVI to offer prayers, condolences and a $50,000 contribution for the flood relief campaign which is being co-ordinated by the St Vincent de Paul Society.
Today the death toll stands at 18, with more deaths expected to be announced as recovery workers move into the Lockyer Valley where an “inland tsunami” on Monday last week turned the normally quiet streets in the towns of Toowoomba, Helidon, Grantham and Gatton into a brown angry torrent, sweeping all before it.
Within the massive force of destruction have emerged stories of personal heroism and tragedy including the deaths in Toowoomba of 13-year-old Jordan Rice and his mother Donna Rice, swept to their deaths inside their stalled car, even as Jordan put his younger brother, 11-year-old Blake, into arms of the rescuer who risked his own life to reach them.
Queensland’s capital Brisbane is the latest urban centre to be flooded. Torrential floods and a king tide last week saw the Brisbane River inundate whole suburbs, necessitating the evacuation of 20,000 households and 3,500 businesses. Power and water supplies have been cut and the city is a declared disaster zone. The only mitigating factor is that the river’s peak was one metre less than the 5.5 metres that had been predicted.
Catholic Mission’s Brisbane Education Officer Jenny Simpson is one who has been evacuated from her riverside suburb of Tennyson. At the time of speaking she had just learned that her home was one of the few in the suburb that had not been swamped by the tide.
“There is no satisfaction in the fact that my home has survived because the water is up to the eaves of the roofs of my neighbours’ homes,” Jenny said.
A veteran of Brisbane’s record 1974 flood, Jenny said she and her daughter left home to stay with her mother 20 kilometres away “with two suitcases packed with their identification papers and old clothes which I’ll need for the clean-up.”
Worst yet to come
Jenny said the people of Brisbane are now living through the “eerie, stressful, anxious time” of waiting for the water to recede.
“The worst is yet to come,” Jenny said. “The houses may stay underwater for a week or more. Then the horrible destruction is revealed including raw sewage and swarms of mosquitoes. The threat of disease will be very real then.”
Catholic Mission’s Diocesan Director in Brisbane David McGovern said that prayers and support are needed now more than ever.
“The floodwaters will recede but the damage to home and hearth will last a lot longer,” David said.
“I’ve spoken with priests and laymen in the flooded parishes. They ask you to keep holding them in your prayers. In the Lockyer Valley the worst is yet to come as the communities realise that those who are missing are dead.”
The Archbishop of Brisbane John Bathersby has also made an urgent call for prayers.
“We offer prayers for the deceased and their families and the relief workers and all who are suffering as a result of the floods. Many parishes and schools are opening their doors to assist those affected. Our central Archdiocesan office is closed at this stage and we have no power, no lifts, and no lights.”
People are encouraged to assist in any way they can to relief efforts through the St Vincent de Paul and other charities responding to the floods. More details can be found at www.vinnies.org.au
Catholic Church offers prayers and practical assistance in Queensland floods
Vinnies QLD Flood Appeal
Holy Father donates $US 50,000 to assist Queensland flood relief
World offers prayers for Queensland flood victims
Super flood continues as Brisbane evacuates and Toowoomba grieves
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