I’m not going to name names, but two people remarked to me last week that the Queensland floods wouldn’t be that bad, because all the houses have stilts, so everyone up there would be fine.
I wasn’t about to get into an argument about it, but at the time I had my doubts. I suspect the people involved (both a generation older than me) have in their minds that the whole state is filled with “traditional” architecture of the Queenslander style — in particular those with stumps/stilts that let’s the house sit above ground level.
I may not have been to Queensland for twenty years, but I know it’s simply not true. As in any modern urban area, places like Brisbane (under threat now from floods) and the many regional cities have a wide variety of architecture, and traditional structures like stilts may or may not be integrated into modern designs, particularly as local drainage systems improved and the risk of termites and other pests (a reason for the stilts) may have been less prominent.
In any case, in the last day or two the flooding has got significantly worse. This video from Toowoomba shows just how quickly it can develop from a mere raging torrent into a dangerous situation where cars are thrown about like toys.
A number of people are confirmed dead, and many more are missing from places like Toowoomba.
Two-thirds of Queensland has been declared a disaster zone, and for those outside Australia trying to judge how big the problem is, the flooded areas are said to be about the size of France and Germany combined, or for our American friends, the size of Texas and Oklahoma combined.
Brisbane is now under threat, with some of the images yesterday of thousands fleeing central Brisbane reminiscent of disaster movies — proving yet again that freeways are no good for moving large numbers of people at once (but if you’ve driven in, and you can’t get back home any other way, what choice do you have?).
[Pic at right: Riverside Expressway, from Queensland government traffic camera, 1:36pm AEST Tuesday]
My uncle lives in Gordon Park, in inner-suburban Brisbane. Thankfully his suburb is not on the list of those likely to be affected by the river breaking its banks, and the excellent flood maps prepared by Brisbane City Council show that even if local flooding occurs, his street (which is on a hill above a park and a creek) should be safe. My sister rang him last night to check on him — he’s doing fine so far.
A lot of areas will not be so lucky though, and one can only offer best wishes to those caught up in the flooding.