Eastern Australia struggling with record flooding | Pacific Beat

Eastern Australia struggling with record flooding

Eastern Australia struggling with record flooding

Updated 30 January 2013, 10:59 AEDT

The Eastern coast of Australia is once again struggling with massive floods.

The water is hitting cities and towns in Queensland and New South Wales, with an estimate that nearly 50 thousand people have been affected, with many of them being forced to evacuate their homes.

In some areas the water has started to drop, but in others, like Bundaberg, the peak water height is yet to be reached.

Pacific Correspondent Campbell Cooney prepared this report, and thanks to the contributions from ABC Radio and News across Queensland and New South Wales.

Presenter: Campbell Cooney'

Speaker: Keith Sorenson, Mal Forman, Bundaberg mayor, Graham Quirk, Lord Mayor of Brisbane

Michael Beattie, Grafton local Peter Kedwell, Fruit wholesaler Brisbane Ross Farlow, Canefarmer

Kath Timms, Dairyfarmer


COONEY: So far the floods across Queensland and New South Wales have left four people dead, thousands homeless, and many properties destroyed.
Hardest hit is the Queensland city of Bundaberg, where helicopters are being used to rescue those stranded, and Air Force Hercules are transferring the sick and the elderly to hospitals in Brisbane.
The last time Bundaberg had a major flood was 1942, and local Keith Sorenson can remember it as a child.
SORENSON: I was eight year old in 1942 flood and I remember it vividly and it was nowhere near as bad as this one. We watched the water rising all night and when it came a foot of water in the actual house, we decided we've got to go.
COONEY: Others there are telling a similar story.
FEMALE TALENT: We had an ocean in front of our house and it just come across and broke and filled up everything. 
MALE TALENT: My house is only low level and I went in to pack up a few things and the wife said I'm leaving, I said fine, I'll pack these few things up and get everything low down, put it on the bed. Went in this morning and the water just went through it and just lifted the carpet up and just tipped the bloody beds over, so we've lost the lot.
COONEY: And the Mayor of Bundaberg Mal Forman has told ABC News the worse may not be over.
FORMAN: Overnight we've seen the river reach nine-point-four-five metres at the moment. The Bureau of Meteorology are telling us they're still expecting a nine-point-five height throughout this day and then probably into the night. The weir is still rising, it's a bit over 23 metres at the moment, and it takes about eight to ten hours to reach us down here at the city area.
COONEY: In the nearby city of Gympie the water has started coming down, but in Queensland's capital Brisbane people are keeping an eye on the Brisbane River as its levels edge upwards, although Lord Mayor Graham Quirk says it doesn't look like it will be a repeat of the devastating floods of 2011.
QUIRK: Well at this stage we've had no reports of homes that have suffered inundation into the habitable areas. That's great news obviously. Underneath the homes there's been several cases of that. While we saw some businesses impacted yesterday, even in the CBD there was under the Eagle Street Pier there were a few businesses there impacted, they will cop it again.
COONEY: Across the state border many have been evacuated from parts of the town of Grafton, and others have been warned they should be prepared to move at short notice.
One of them is Michael Beattie.
BEATTIE: I've never seen the Clarence River rise as quickly as it did yesterday morning. But there's a real air of confidence around the people that the levy system is going to hold. There's been a couple of little minor breaches where there's been some water coming over the top, and the SES has been there and they've sandbagged.
COONEY: While the final damage bill from the floods is still be calculated, farms and primary industry along Australia's East Coast is expecting the cost will be steep.
In 2011 the Queensland vegetable marketing complex at Rocklea sustained major damage.
Wholesaler Peter Kedwell says that hasn't happened this time, but the floods are still having an impact.
KEDWELL: It's actually worse in the growing areas than what it was in 2011. We loaded some semi-trailers to go to Townsville last week and they're stuck in the floods. So we've got stock on board, they can't go forward, they can't go back.
COONEY: Ross Farlow is a cane and soya bean grower in Northern New South Wales.
FARLOW: Well at the present the soya beans are high and dry, the cane still only a third of the farm is underwater, but it'll be totally underwater by dark tonight I would imagine.
COONEY: Dairy farmer Kath Timms is also struggling.
TIMMS: This is the third milking it looks like we're going to miss coming up now.
COONEY: But while no one wants to see anyone affected by adverse weather, for farmers in southern New South Wales, in the grip of a drought, the rain which is generating the flooding is also a relief.
One of them is dairy farmer Paul Timms.
TIMMS: The last seven months, as bad a seven months as we put in for an extremely long time. And even as bad as any part of the drought it's most welcome.


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