Sunday, January 2, 2011

Record floods swamp Australia's northeast

Daniel Munoz in Reuters: Large parts of Australia's coastal northeast disappeared under floodwaters on Sunday in a spreading disaster that has brought some of the highest floods on record and forced thousands from their homes. Queensland State Treasurer Andrew Fraser described the floods as a "disaster of biblical proportions" and said the ultimate cost would exceed A$1 billion (1.02 billion).

As forecasters predicted months of more rain, hundreds of residents in the town of Rockhampton, 600 km (370 miles) north of the Queensland state capital Brisbane, fled homes amid rising waters which are expected to reach over 30 feet deep in coming days.

Local Mayor Brad Carter said the town was "like an island." Across the state, the floods have affected around 200,000 people and inundated thousands of properties. "You can look down a street for a kilometer and see nothing but water," Carter told Reuters by telephone from Rockhampton, a town of 77,000 people. "You see people in boats moving their material in and out of houses."

One person was confirmed dead in the floods on Sunday, while an intense search was under way for a second missing. Floodwaters were receding in some areas, leaving a mammoth cleanup job, but other areas were still collecting runoff from the Christmas deluge brought by the La Nina weather pattern….

A flooded street in Townsville, Queensland, from over a year ago. Shot by Rob and Stephanie Levy, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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