Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Land of extremes

This time of year I'm usually posting about bushfires causing death and destruction in Australia.

We do indeed have fires, in the west. Not far from Perth a deliberately lit fire has destroyed a dozen homes:

Photo: Alf Sorbello

There's a large area burnt out but fortunately no casualties reported.

The animals won't be as lucky, although people do their best to rescue them:

Photo: Alf Sorbello

But this 'fire season' the big news is the flood disaster hitting Queensland.

The news an hour ago was that thirteen people are dead and another forty three are missing...and the worst of the flood is yet to come.

Towns have been destroyed by flash flooding, with 'tsunamis' of six to eight metres coming out of nowhere and catching people by surprise.

One third of Ipswich, a suburb of Brisbane, is under water. Brisbane itself, our third largest city, is on high alert with many suburbs already flooded and mass evacuations from the city centre. The river runs through the centre of the city and is due to peak at 4am Brisbane time. Fortunately the predicted 5.4 metre peak has been revised to 5.2 metres. It's still a hell of a lot of water - measure it!

5.4 metres down to 5.2 doesn't sound a big difference but it means thousands of properties won't be flooded. The current reports are that 20,000 properties will be.

The area under water is larger than France & Germany combined and the flood waters are headed south into New South Wales so the north east of my home state is threatened.

People are being rescued from cars which have been washed away and from the roof of their homes...

Photo: Sky News. Town of Lockyer

Photo: Courier Mail. The town of Toowoomba

This shot from a television camera in a chopper shows a family on their sinking 4X4. The mother and son were rescued but sadly the father, a well-known local personality James Perry, is missing.

Photo: The Australian

The animals are affected too and people are doing their best to help them:

Men jumped in and battled to rescue this trapped horse, which was disoriented and couldn't find its way to the nearby high ground:

Photo: Network 10

The wild animals are in trouble of course, finding any high ground or something, anything, to cling on to, like this goanna:


And animals help each other in times of danger too.

This is one of the most amazing photos to come out of it so far. Armin Gerlach was visiting friends in the flood-hit town of Dalby when he spotted a brown snake (the world's second most venomous) giving a green frog a ride through the flood waters:

Photo: Armin Gerlach

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