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It Was The Worst Of Times….

…but it was also the best of times.  The Great Flood of Queensland 2011.

How can anyone possibly say that anything to do with the flooding of Queensland during last summer can be described as being the best of times?  There was so much tragedy.  So much death.  So much destruction.  So many sad stories.

Yet there was also stories of inspiration.  Tales of heroism.  Examples of courage and resilience and bravery.  But most of all there was the famous Queensland spirit which was on show for all the world to see, and see it they did.

The news was dominated by the flooding of regional Queensland in towns such as Emerald, Dalby and Gympie. Unfortunately over the years, the flooding of regional Queensland towns was not a new experience. Weeks of solid rain and a torrential downpour unleashed a flash flood in the elevated town of Toowoomba which ultimately cost 21 people their lives when it went down stream and destroyed the small town of Grantham and others along the way.  The images of this flash flood, caught on the screens of amateur photographers were beamed around the world.  For all the wrong reasons, Queensland was the top news story on the planet.

Who can forget the story and heroism of 13 year old Jordan Rice? Caught in the flash flood with his mother and brother, this young boy, not able to swim, demanded his 10 year old brother be rescued first from the rapidly rising water surge coursing through the centre of Toowoomba.  A few seconds later, he and his mother were both dead after the car they were trapped in was inundated and flipped in the raging waters.  His brother was saved and will grow old knowing his brother gave his life for him.

Jordan became the human face of this tragedy caused by Mother Nature’s fury.

The night before the Grantham tragedy and with the rain continuing to fall, a call went out across the media and social networks for volunteers to help make sandbags at Brisbane City Council sites across the city.  People pulled on their gum boots and headed out in the pouring rain to assist.  Twitter was alive and active and there were people tweeting and retweeting vital information.  The community was in full swing and answering the call.

I was transfixed in front of the TV throughout this disaster which went on for days.  All of the networks had 24 hour coverage of the unfolding tragedy.  It was must watch TV.  Seeing how Queenslanders were reacting to the crisis made it even more the best of times.  The Wally Lewis statue at Suncorp Stadium now equipped with floaties, goggles and a snorkle.  People playing cricket on Coronation Drive, one of Brisbane’s busiest roads, in the middle of the day. Yes the Queensland humour and spirit was on show and it was badly needed.  Australian’s have a great way of laughing at ourselves and not taking life too seriously and it was light entertainment in a dark time.

I was inspired and proud of our rescue services.  They risked their own lives to save strangers.  Time and time again rescue helicopters flew over the fast moving waters in the Lockyer Valley, plucking stranded residents from the roofs of homes and cars.  Swift water rescue teams from the police, fire brigade and SES saved countless lives from raging torrents.  Their actions and selflessness and bravery and humility made me very proud of them.

As Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh delivered a speech capable of bringing a tear to a glass eye it brought us closer as a community.  No matter what your political persuasion was, it was hard not to be moved by her speech.

“As we weep for what we have lost, and as we grieve for family and friends and we confront the challenge that is before us, I want us to remember who we are. We are Queenslanders. We’re the people that they breed tough, north of the border. We’re the ones that they knock down, and we get up again.” Anna Bligh.

After the water receded came the best part of all.  The mud army mobilised.  Volunteers from around the state kicked into action.  Armed with shovels, mops, buckets and a cheery attitude, they got to work and drove into the carnage and began to clean up the mess and sludge and rubbish.

It made me proud to be a Queenslander.

It made us all proud to be a Queenslander.  I suspect that even non Queenslanders, watching from a far wished they were Queenslanders.

Then TC Yasi came to town.  Well not Brisbane town, but our cousins up in North Queensland.  Tropical Cyclone Yasi was a mean bitch.  A category 5 system with winds able to inflict major damage and cause damage she did.

The media that had set up camp in Brisbane for the floods had packed up and headed north to cover the imminent disaster there.  Some brave journalists locked down with locals in community halls as the giant storm powered over head.  They were the first on the scene as a new day dawned, broadcasting images of widespread damage to homes and buildings and crops.

But yet that Queensland spirit wasn’t broken.  Who can forget this sign outside a NQ Hogs Breath Cafe.  This is the Queensland spirit which saw us through this terrible period.

And here we are 12 months later.  The clean up continues.  Homes are still being rebuilt.  We remember those who died and pause and reflect on the sad and tragic loss of life. For those taken before their time.

I hope that people drew inspiration from the Great Flood of 2011.  I hope that when times get tough, that they look back at this time and see the courage of many.  They recall the heroism of people young and old, friends and strangers. That they remember that Queenslanders never give up and no matter the odds, no matter the trials and tribulations before them, that there is a spirit within this state and of course this great country of Australia, which is unbreakable, even in the face of adversity and struggle.

I hope, that like me, others are also remembering how Queensland united 12 months ago.  I hope they also remember that in the midst of disaster, that the worst of times was also the best of times, when that famous Queensland spirit was on display and it is that spirit which is still with us today.

For my post about the Floods as it happened last year, click here.

Floodageddon 2011

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The following information is supplied by myself as a one stop shop for information.  It is correct at the time of publishing but please do not rely on this info fully.  It is intended as a guide only.  Please refer to official channels such as the Queensland Police Service Facebook page which is listed below for more accurate and up to date information.

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Queensland is facing its worse ever natural disaster as flooding causes wide spread havoc which is affecting most of the state.

The Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh has launched the Queensland Premiers Flood Relief Appeal to help raise funds for Queenslanders, many of whom do not have flood insurance.

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Here is how you can donate:

Donate at any QLD branch of:

Bank Of QLD

Commonwealth Bank

NAB

Westpac

ANZ

Suncorp

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or donate online here

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or call 1800 219 028 and use your credit card

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or donate at Coles or Woolworths Supermarkets at the cash registers

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You can also make a direct EFT payment

Account Name: Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal
BSB: 064 013
Account number: 1000 6800

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If you wish to volunteer to assist people in their time of need, you can do so by registering your interest here

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Friends and Relatives can call 1300 993 191 for info on missing loved ones

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The number for the State Emergency Service is 132500

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Follow the QLD Police Service on Facebook  for up to date information here

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The Brisbane City Council site shows road closures due to floods here

Moreton Bay Regional Council road closures here

Logan City Council road closures here

Redland Council road closures here

Gold Coast City Council road closures here

Sunshine Coast Regional Council road closures and other info here

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Brisbane City Secondary Flood Maps click here or if that page is down the archive is here

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Click here to for general information.

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For those with hearing difficulties here is special video for you.

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Sandbags are available (at time of inputting):

  • Guyatt Park, Bryce Street, St Lucia
  • Botticelli Street Park, Botticelli Street, Fig Tree Pocket
  • Hawthorne Park, Cnr Park and Oak Street, East Brisbane
  • Perrin Park, Josling St, Taringa
  • Darra Works Depot, Shamrock Rd, Darra
  • Morningside Works Depot, Redfern Street, Morningside
  • Newmarket SES Depot, Wilston Rd, Newmarket (in carpark off Erneton Street)
  • Zillmere Works Depot, Jennings Street, Zillmere
  • Stafford Works Depot, Turner Road, Kedron

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QLD Health Disaster Management Plan is available here

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I’ll add more info as I get it.

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Please be safe everybody.

Videos showing the floods:

This shows the force of the flash flood in Toowoomba

A rescue in Toowoomba

A river of cars in this 5 mins of footage in Toowoomba

The water is gone in Toowoomba and this one example of the destruction

This is where the cars ended up from the flash flood in Toowoomba

A tour of the flooded streets of Brisbane at boat level

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Some pictures of the devastating floods taken by me or credited to others.

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If you have a video or photo you want posted here, please email me jack.mcclane@bigpond.com