It’s hard to know where to begin with a post like this. As I type, Australia’s third largest city, the city I call home and the home to over 2 million people, is slowly sinking under a record surge of murky, muddy water.
After nearly 3 weeks of unrelenting rainfall across the state of Queensland which has seen a number of small towns ripped apart, sometimes repeatedly, by walls of water sweeping through their communities, the surge of water has made its way through the various river systems to the capital in the State’s south east. Hundreds of stranded people have required rescuing and the Queensland Emergency Services have so far been outstanding in their efforts which are continuing around the clock.
To put things into perspective, the flood affected area state-wide is the equivalent of France and Germany combined, or for the Yanks out there, two times the size of Texas. An estimated 19,700 residential properties are expected to experience flooding across their entire property either already, or over the week ahead.
Brisbane Braces Itself
The Brisbane River, the snaking body of water responsible for Brisbane’s “The River City” tag, has swelled beyond its banks on the way to a record level of 5.5 metres expected sometime early tomorrow morning. Many of the Riverside attractions in the heart of the city including the State Library, the Gallery of Modern Art, South Bank, Suncorp Stadium, Queensland Tennis Centre and the Eagle Street Pier have been consumed by flood waters and even iconic establishments like the unfortunately named “Drift” restaurant (formerly “Oxley’s”) have been completely washed away and destroyed.
Once affectionately referred to as “BrisVegas” and now “BrisVenice”, the city has, not surprisingly, experienced floods like this before. In 1974, some 40 years ago, “14 people lost their lives, mostly by drowning, in the suburbs of Yeronga, Newmarket, St Lucia, and the city of Ipswich upriver and to the West. The total damage in Brisbane and the surrounding areas was estimated at over AU$200 million (1974 values).” (Source: Wikipedia).
It has already been estimated that the current natural disaster will indeed eclipse the 1974 occurrence which is a frightening prospect for all affected Brisbane residents, especially those who witnessed and endured the last nightmare.
So far the death toll across the State officially stands at 12 with many more people (51 as I type this) missing throughout Queensland, especially in hard hit remote towns in areas like the Lockyer Valley (west of Brisbane). With stories circulating suggesting that there are many people who have suffered the horror of witnessing their neighbours being swept away by the floods, there is no doubt that this heartbreaking number of persons lost will rise as the floodwaters abate.
For those of you interested in keeping up to date with the latest in this developing tragedy here are a few decent resources:
How Canadians Can Help
As a Brisbane boy who is struggling with the inability to help his fellow Aussie from thousand of miles away in Canada, it would be remiss of me not to at least mention how we Canucks can help. While Queenslanders are a tough and resilient mob, there is no doubt that the State is going to take a multi-billion dollar hit as a result of this natural disaster, and sadly there are going to be countless families left with nothing once the flood waters subside.
For more details, visit the Queensland Government Flood Relief Fund information page.
Vancouver’s Opportunity to Make A Difference
I feel like Vancouver has a golden opportunity to make a difference with Australia Day only a couple of weeks away. I think it would be awesome if a reputable and prominent bar/restaurant/club would put on a charity event on January 26th (Australia Day) with the bulk of the proceeds collected from things such as door cover charge, raffles, donation buckets etc donated to the “Premiers Disaster Relief Appeal” (see above).
With a history of charitable activity and a swag of super popular establishments throughout Vancouver, I was thinking that perhaps “The Donnelly Group” would perhaps be the perfect candidates for this effort. With pubs and clubs in their stable including “The Academic”, “Cinema”, “The Lamplighter”, “Library Square”, “Republic” & “The New Oxford” I think there’s a real opportunity for a HUGE Australia Day event that could benefit the people that need help the most throughout Queensland.
I have no contacts within the group, but would be happy and eager to talk to anyone who does. If you think you can help me get the ball rolling on the idea, send me a message or contact me on Twitter (@masey).
Finally, if enough people Tweet about this post and share it with their friends, hopefully we can at the very least increase the awareness of what is going on in Queensland right now. There is a selection of share buttons below to help you out with making this happen!