As bushfires still blaze out of control in Victoria, the floodwaters are starting to recede in North Queensland. Yes, Australia is a big country.
It’s astonishing that two completely contrasting disasters can occur during the very same weekend in the very same country. At one end of the country there has been no rain for, I believe it’s 35 consecutive days so far, and at the other end there have been flood warnings with falls of up to 300mm daily. Thousands of families, farms and businesses have been affected.
One of the worst hit was a town called Ingham, which is on the coast between Townsville and Cairns.
3,000 homes have been damaged as the Herbert River peaked at 12.2 metres, not once, but twice. Just as residents were clearing up as the waters started receded the first time, down it came again. 300mm in a day, 200mm of those in just one hour. As levels rose, a crocodile was seen swimming in some water behind the Lee’s Hotel in Ingham.
These heavy falls were the backlash of the recent visit on the 2nd February of tropical Cyclone Ellie.
It has been reported that two-thirds of Queensland was flooded. Two-thirds??? That is a huge amount of water and a huge area. I was once told that the UK would fit into Queensland 5 times. Today I decided to check those figures, so I grabbed my “Times Atlas of the World” for the facts. Queensland is 668,207 square miles and the UK is 94,058 square miles. My calculator tells me that the UK will fit into Queensland 7.1 times. Lucky I checked.
So, according to standard mathematical principles AND a news report, it seems we have flooding to an area 4.7 times the size of the UK. I am not so sure. There has been a ton of rain up north but someone, the reporter I would think, has got that wrong.
Perhaps the discrepancy is in the word “flooded”? If an area is not under water but is cut off because flooding 100 miles away blocks the only road in, is that whole area flooded? If a district has flooding to 10% of its’ area, but the damage to that area is significant enough to declare it a disaster zone, is the whole district declared as flooded? I don’t know. But I am pretty certain there isn’t 445,471 square miles of Queensland under water. Wouldn’t the crocs have liked that!
So, while the reporting may be misleading (there’s something new) the result is the same. We have a disaster area in the north of Australia and we have a disaster area in the south of Australia.
I am very lucky, I am right in between the two and in a place that has escaped the wrath of nature during these tragic times. Amazingly, the people of north Queensland, despite the disaster that has hit them, know they are lucky too. The Government has awarded financial assistance to many of those affected by the floods. They, in turn, are planning to hand over those cheques to the Victorian Bushfire Disaster Appeal.
Yes, Australia is a big country. It has a big heart too.