Brisbane breathes… above water
|Flood waters peak in Brisbane|
Flood water in Australia's third-biggest city peaked below feared catastrophic levels on Thursday but Brisbane and other devastated regions faced years of rebuilding and even the threat of fresh floods in the weeks ahead.
The capital of Queensland state resembled a muddy lake, with an entire waterfront cafe among the debris washing down the Brisbane River, a torrent that has flooded 12,000 homes in the city of 2 million and left 118,000 buildings without power.
The Australian association in Dubai renews calls for assistance even as authorities are trying to estimate the exact cost of what's being termed as Queensland's worst floods in forty years.
ANZA in the UAE, a UAE Dubai based community organisation set up to provide support for the Australian and New Zealand community living in the UAE has renewed its call to members to donate for the reconstruction efforts.
In what the Queensland premier, Anna Bligh, has described as “post war zone”, almost thousands of homes have been inundated with death toll running to several dozens. Some estimates say 127,000 homes are without power and the cost of reconstruction is expected to exceed $4.8 billion.
A Dow Jones report quoting estimates from J P Morgan said the eventual cost to the economy could hit A$13 billion, when including the cost of rebuilding ports throughout Queensland, northern New South Wales and the downtown infrastructure of Brisbane.
On Wednesday the Australian Embassy in Abu Dhabi called upon people to donate to the Queensland Premier's flood relief fund.
So far about Australian $35.8million has been donated to the fund by various organisations. UAE based Etihad is one of the organisations that has promised to donate $1million to the fund.
Meanwhile, flights from Brisbane have resumed and with no flight to UAE delayed on Thursday.
The Brisbane Airport in its statement said it continues to operate as usual but advised all passengers coming through Brisbane Airport to contact their airline before leaving home for their latest flight information.
As flood waters entered Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, air traffic from the city has been thrown out of gear. The Emirates flight EK 433 scheduled to arrive at 1pm today has been delayed.
The Australian embassy in the UAE has invited donations for flood relief activities in Queensland even as the death toll from a violent flash flood in northeastern Australia as the death toll rose to over 20.
Australian Ambassador Doug Trappett told Emirates 24|7 that Australians not just at home but in the UAE and from around the world have come together in this time of need to help the victims of this disaster. “The floods in Queensland have devastated communities. The Queensland Government has established a Flood Appeal to raise funds for flood affected areas. Anyone who wishes to assist can donate to the Appeal, details of which can be found on www.qld.gov.au/floods/.”
A senior embassy official also said that so far they have not received any calls from Australian citizens in the UAE about affected family members or friends. “Queensland police have also set up a hotline for those concerned about the welfare of friends or relatives in Queensland: +61 7 3055 6220,” said a statement from the embassy.
Trappett also said that the Australian Embassy wishes to thank those Emiratis and other UAE residents who have contacted the Embassy to enquire about how to assist. The Australian Government would particularly like to thank Etihad for its generous donation of AUD 1 million to the Flood Appeal.
“The Australian Embassy would also like to thank Socceroo Tim Cahill, who is currently playing for Australia at the Asian Cup in Qatar, for donating a number of items for auction on EBay. Proceeds of the auction will go to the Appeal. Items include: two Business Class airfares to the UK from any port in Australia, donated by Emirates Airlines; two seats in Tim Cahill's private box to watch any Everton home match this season; an invitation to watch Everton train; a Tim Cahill Everton jersey signed by the whole Everton team; and a pair of signed Tim Cahill boots from the game that the winning bidder watches.”
Meanwhile, according to reports quoting Queensland state Premier Anna Bligh two more bodies were found in the Lockyer Valley on Wednesday. A giant wall of water prompted by a sudden storm roared through the valley on Monday, and 67 people are still missing.
The latest deaths bring to 22 the total number of people killed since drenching rains that began in November sent swollen rivers spilling over their banks across Queensland, covering an area larger than Germany and France combined.
The waters are working their way toward the coast and the Queensland capital of Brisbane is the next major city at risk. Floodwaters there were flowing into the city streets Wednesday and 20,000 homes are threatened.
'Miracle' baby born during deadly floods
An Australian woman gave birth to a baby boy as deadly floods devastated areas around her home, an official said Wednesday.
Australian media dubbed Callum Jack Wieland a "miracle baby", with Sydney's Daily Telegraph describing him as "living proof that amongst the despair in Queensland there is hope."
Officials said Callum's mother was at her home with family when she went into labour after flash floods Monday swept at least 12 people to their deaths near Brisbane.
The woman was forced to deliver the baby late Tuesday with the assistance of relatives after an emergency helicopter was unable to reach because of the heavy rain.
"She was in a semi-rural property and the roads around her had been isolated," a spokeswoman for Queensland's CareFlight helicopter told AFP.
The woman and her newborn were eventually airlifted from their home at Bright View in the hard-hit Lockyer Valley west of Brisbane to hospital on Wednesday and both were reportedly in good health. (AFP)
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