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Queensland Floods 2011

Updated on January 12, 2011


This is the current snapshot of the situation at 9.30pm local time on Wednesday 12th January, 2011.

  • Brisbane River banks have broken.
  • 75% of the state is declared a disaster zone.
  • 12 people killed. 
  • 43 people missing.
  • 19,700 homes are affected in Brisbane alone.
  • 6,500 people in Brisbane have moved to evacuation centers.
  • Entire towns are cut off - residents have been told to give up sand bagging and get out.
  • The expected peak of Brisbane river has been revised down to 5.2m (compared with 5.5m during the 1974 flood disaster).
  • 3,000 homes in Ipswitch are under water. There has been footage shown on TV where only rooftops are visible.

Furniture and debris being washed out onto the streets by flash flooding in Toowoomba.
Furniture and debris being washed out onto the streets by flash flooding in Toowoomba. | Source

It's Been Raining For Weeks

It's been raining in Queensland for weeks. Three quarters of the state has now been declared a disaster zone. The situation has been described as "grim and desperate" by Premier Anna Bligh.

Toowoomba was hit hard yesterday, receiving something like 150mm of rain in 30 minutes. Given it had been raining for weeks, the soil could not soak up any more moisture and everything that fell turned into damage-causing runoff.

The following diagram from The Australian explains how this massive downpour will have a major impact on Ipswitch and the low lying Brisbane central business district. The effect is disastrous and it will take months to clean up. 

Anatomy of a Flash Flood
Anatomy of a Flash Flood | Source

1974 Floods

The 1974 floods caused by the Brisbane River rising by 5.45m resulted in 6,500 homes destroyed and 14 people killed. This current disaster is projected to be worse.

As a preventative measure after '74, the Wivenhoe Dam was built. Its capacity is 1.45 million megalitres (or 225% capacity). At the moment it's at 190% capacity, its highest ever. Water from the dam needs to be released in order to let it continue to do its job. This water release will add to the deluge from rain, but as it stands it has already saved Brisbane from an even worse disaster.

The Next Few Days

The worst is expected to hit Brisbane on Thursday 13th January 2011 during high tide where waters will rise above 5.5m. Initial modelling warnings were for that date as well as a second wave occurring on the following Friday 21st January.

Electricity is being progressively cut to 100,000 homes and businesses in the city.

Phone networks are congested.

Shopping centers are "insane" and running out of food (particularly bread, milk, fresh fruits and vegetables).

The flooding of sewers must be contaminating some water supplies or spreading diseases. Some sites have recommended that water must be boiled before drinking it, however it may not have reached that extreme yet.

One can only imagine what amount of mosquitos will start breeding around all of this water (spreading whatever disease they may be carrying).

It's a really, really horrible situation to be in. If you are religious, pray.

Where to Find More Information

If you live in Queensland or have friends or family there, then you will want to know how their area will be affected.

The first source of information could be which contains flood maps showing which suburbs (and which streets) are likely to be affected. It also contains information on road closures, where to get sandbags and evacuation shelters.

Most of the Australian news websites such as and its affiliates have interactive flash media showing the extent of damage on towns and cities outside of Brisbane. Check out the Bureau of Meteorology for the latest rainfall radar.

Donate to the Flood Appeal

Please Donate to the Queensland Flood Appeal here:

Australian's looking for flood information can call 1300 993 191 - do NOT call the 1800 number as it is affecting emergency services.


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    • AllSuretyBonds profile image

      AllSuretyBonds 6 years ago

      This is very sad. I feel so bad for the people who have lost everything.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Although I follow the news on the radio, I rarely watch it on TV and these are the first films I've seen of the devastation. Those poor people, the loss of life, homes, and the general just seems to go on and on.

    • Sarah Masson profile image

      Sarah 6 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      16 have been confirmed dead now, so sad :(

    • marcofratelli profile image

      marcofratelli 6 years ago from Australia

      Hey there, yep I heard about Victoria now (as well as NSW). Watching TV in disbelief... fortunately they've revised the expected peak levels down to below 1974 levels (just).

    • MPG Narratives profile image

      Marie Giunta 6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Hi Marco, it is incredible the devastation this rain has caused. I've been speaking to people in other states and Victoria is getting torential rain in parts as well. Very unusual weather patterns and by all reports set to continue. Let's all help where can can folks.