The Burke Report - Brisbane bracing for flood

While Lucy helps friends sandbag their house, after evacuating News Limited headquarters yesterday (only to be called into work today!), I'm feeling pretty impotent here on Mount Tamborine – the area I live in turns into an isolated Tasmania when flood waters rise. 

Many phone calls have been filtered from loved ones in Chinchilla, Dalby, Ipswitch and Toowoomba, the most harrowing of which told the story of the fireman who lost his grip on the four-year-old boy at Marburg, west of Brisbane, whose body was found late yesterday. Heartbreaking. 

Trivial inconveniences, like being unable to purchase Fairfax newspapers, halted magazine deliveries, mold and piles of washing, fade into obscurity as Brisbane braces for the worst. Liz Burke reports from her home town... 

After a few weeks of constant unseasonal rainfall across the state in which the nation supposedly shines, the incessant downpour had already claimed the life of my iPod, I hadn't been able to tackle that ever growing pile of hand washing and it felt like my towels hadn't been properly dry for weeks.

We thought (hoped) that might be the worst of it. When news of flash floods, lives lost and missing people in Toowoomba and other affected areas of Queensland started surfacing, it was clear that there was more to come, callbacks to 1974 no longer made for clever quips but incited fear, and I clearly had no ground to continue my petty complaints.

Yesterday's rising waters and calls to evacuate areas incited panic in the CBD, where I was working. People began to leave work as early as 10am when it was circulated that roads were being blocked, riverside suburbs were going under, and office buildings were being voluntary evacuated to ensure their staff could get home safely.

Early in the morning, city stores resembled those of a ghost town, but by lunch time, shoppers were stocking up at supermarkets, filling trolleys with bottled water and canned goods leaving shelves completely empty as though preparing for armageddon.

Buses were full and Brisbane's Central station could easily have been mistaken for Japan's famously crowded Harajuku train stop and traffic was mental.

To offer some light relief, one of the busiest places I saw on my sodden journey home was the local bottle shop, where characters of all sorts were stocking up to prepare for the following days off work they'd been granted.

Luckily, my family, close friends and I mostly seem to be high-ground-dwellers and were not caught up in the furious rush to retrieve sandbags from SES stations nor did we have trouble getting to our homes, or relocating.

Concerns for loved ones and the city at large interrupted sleep for many last night, and although the reach of the river I now overlook more resembles rapids than the still flow that usually underlies the Story Bridge and the water levels are significantly higher than ever before, now covering a usually suspended walkway, we're being treated to our first patches of blue sky in weeks.

Probably a misdemeanour, a literal calm before the storm, we're heeding warnings to prepare for looming disaster as evacuation centres fill up, power is cut off, and death tolls are anticipated to rise with the water levels. For now, it's a waiting game spent glued to local radio and news reports.

Yours truly,
Liz @ Girl With a Satchel