So said David Tennant in ‘The Waters of Mars’, and it’s proving true with the Queensland floods.
For a change, Lismore has missed out – north and south of us are in a mess, though. Strange to think that Brisbane, just two and a half hours’ drive away, is flooding. The river in Lismore is very much up, some roads closed and some riverside parklands under water, but nothing more than we often have to contend with at this time of year. Grafton and some other towns south of us are inundated in low-lying parts. These towns were built in the old days on rivers, as that was the only mode of transport before they cut all the forests down.
We have been seeing some remarkable TV footage of walls of water rushing at breakneck speed along main streets, and piles of cars and houses just thrown about. Some people (some of them kids) think it’s fun to go out in such water, but the trouble is you don’t know what tree logs, roof tin, furniture and other debris are in that water, not to mention floating cows and snakes, etc. I think some people tend to underestimate the weight of water moving fast.
And there’s the danger of trying to cross a floodway, in car or on foot, when you don’t know how deep it is or if there are holes or whether it’s actually still intact underneath. As the water pushes on the side of the car, especially if it’s a proper 4WD – and then there’s the hubris of thinking you can get through in such a car, especially if you’re following a heavy truck that can withstand the weight of the flowing water – there’s a real danger of it flipping and then you’re up shit creek without a paddle – literally.
We once dissuaded our Binna Burra landlord from crossing a flooded causeway at the end of our drive. It was fairly narrow and he thought he could easily drive over, but it was deep and fast enough to cause him grief. Better safe than sorry! We promised to hoof it up the hill to his house to tell his wife he was there (there was no mobile reception in that area). Fortunately he listened to us.
The extreme weather has passed us by in Lismore by this time. It has been wetter than usual here (357 mL – about 14.5 inches on the old scale – in my gauge for December against an average of 121 mL – almost 5 inches; for one-third of the way through January already 233 mL – just over 9 inches – for an average of 155 mL)), but nothing like what is happening in Queensland. It’s ironic that after so much agricultural loss due to drought the farmers have now lost as much or more from floods. The media is warning that fruit and vegetable prices may double or quadruple. My own veggie garden, such as it was, has rotted away.
The news last night was talking about the low-lying suburbs of Brisbane getting flooded along the river. Meanwhile the sun has come out here and it’s going to be a sunny few days. Even when the rain stops in Queensland, the water will continue to flow down the catchments. Our ex-Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has been on the street sand-bagging and checking people’s homes for their safety in the Brisbane suburb where he lives. This is a good look for him.
The water will certainly be giving a huge flush to the Diamantina and Murray river systems. After 10 years or more of drought and decades of massive arguments over water resource allocation (including how little to allot to the environment), the situation has swung around to the reverse. It’ll be interesting to see what happens both environmentally and politically. Whatever happens, water, or lack of it, will win.