Queensland Floods

On the morning of Wednesday 12 January, I woke up to my mobile phone ringing at 5.50am and it was my Mother asking me if I was ok. As I rolled out of bed and looked out my window I repeated the same line I had been giving concerned family until 4am “I live on the side of a mountain, the flood water will not reached me”.

Then I looked out my bedroom window and my heart started racing.

The view outside of my window had changed from a golf course to a rising tide of brown muddy water. My brain went blank and I told my Mum that I could see the flood water and needed to go out and find out how much it was expected to rise. How could this be? The news said that the Bremer River was going to rise by 22 meters, but I lived next to the Brisbane River and it was going to rise by 5.5 meters? The flood maps on the Brisbane City Counsel didn’t show the water anywhere near my house. I needed information fast.

The power had gone out the day before and I picked up my landline phone and noticed that there was no dial tone.

I needed information fast, so I drove up my drive way I noticed road closed signs up everywhere, due to the rising flood water. As I reached the police station I saw a heap of people walking down the waters edge of the Brisbane River.

The rivers edge was gone and the water was all over the road, up trees and covering everything. The water was so high I was shaking and noticed that groups of families were walking down to the waters edge for a closer look, so I followed too. As we got closer and closer there were loud exclaimations of ‘Wow’ and we all were chatting loudly.

The family groups that were walking back from the waters edge were quiet, somber and would not make eye contact, they were all looking at their feet as they walked past.

Once we all reached the waters edge and you could obsorbe how fast paced the water was, it was frightening. A group and I were all standing by the waters edge and watching large objects float swiftly past. Standing still as the water lapped at your feet, the water was quiet and there was a silence that creep into the air and people started talking in hushed tones. A stillness crept into your soul and it was icy cold.

15 meters high and still rising
Walking away from the edge I noticed that people walking down to the waters edge were all smiling and chatty. As I walked back to the car I didn’t want to nod hello as I usually do, I didn’t want to comment on the weather and I couldn’t muster a fake ‘good morning’ so I looked at my feet and walked by.
The shear size of the body of water is over-whelming and to watch it up close, not on the TV made my stomach shrink into one massive knot. I was secretly glad that I had not eaten breakfast.

There was a government employee who was part of the water board (SEQ) that was monitoring the water too and he was making notes and talking on his mobile phone. I started a conversation with him and asked him “when was the water going to peek?”

The SEQ worker informed me that the water was going to peek in a couple of hours and that it would only raise another meter or two. We were standing on the edge of the water pumping station that provides water to all of Brisbane and he was casually informing that the water will continue to rise but will stop just short of flooding the water pumping station. He was almost relieved to be telling me that the flood waters would only rise to 26.6 meters (87.3 feet) at the Mt Crosby Weir.

Back at home my neighbors came over to see if I was ok and I was grateful for the company. I shared the information that I had gleamed that morning and we made plans to pack up our cars with our personal possession just in case the water reached our homes. As we chatted we realized that our morning cup of tea had been missed because the power was out, so I boiled water on my BBQ and made a large pot of tea. The ritual of making tea and sharing a pot with a friend or (in our case) neighbor brought a soothing balm to our frayed nerves.

Each evening before dark my neighors would knock on my back door and I would cook dinner together on my BBQ, we share food, wine and any news we had heard over the course of the day. I had a transistor radio which everyone would sit around listening too, while I looked after the food cooking on the BBQ. We would wrap up the evening with a game of UNO by candle light.

By Friday afternoon the waters had receded and our suburb is reconnected to the outside world.

This part of the Brisbane River (Colleges Crossing) was 17 meters under water.

The sand build up was over 4 meters in places at Colleges Crossing

This is the Mt Crosby Weir that had over 20 meters of water flowing over the top of it

Standing on the Mt Crosby Weir looking up at the Brisbane water pumping station

The trees had the lower branches stripped by the water.

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