The Brisbane River peaked early this morning, much lower than was expected. While thousands of homes were still flooded and extensive damage was seen, it could have been much worse.
We received word yesterday evening that one of our members residing in the Lockyer Valley region was evacuated on Tuesday. We understand they are now safe.
The Wivenhoe dam upstream of Brisbane was built with a direct purpose of flood mitigation in the wake of the 1974 floods. The dam has a holding capacity of 225% (100% plus a closed floodgate capacity of 125%). The dam reached 191% capacity on January 12 with more water flows expected. Hence the need to let water out and, coupled with a higher than usual tide, the consequent expected flooding of the Brisbane River. Fortunately, authorities now expect to not have to let as much water out as first anticipated.
Today’s peak of the Brisbane River was below the 1974 flood level. However, there is more development and infrastructure today than there was in 1974. It is currently estimated that 25,000 homes have been flooded to some extent in Brisbane. Initial assessments based on the lower flood peak this morning indicate that 11,500 homes have been fully flooded.
Authorities have not yet put an estimate on damage, except to say that it will certainly measure in terms of billions rather than millions. Rebuilding just what infrastructure has been destroyed will take several years.
Meanwhile, the cost in lives lost cannot be measured. The death toll now stands at 14, with grave fears held for at least 12 more missing persons.
While much of the focus this week has been in Queensland’s capital, Brisbane, areas to the north which were in news headlines are still experiencing flooding. The level of the Fitzroy River in Rockhampton has dropped, but is still above the major flood level. Roads could open in the next few days but the airport is expected to remain closed to passenger flights for at least two weeks.
The prayers of God’s people around the world have been heard, with Brisbane being spared an even worse disaster. Our membership has escaped the worst of the flooding. However, the devastation is still immense. Please continue to pray for our brethren and sisters in Queensland as they seek to help their communities and to share the message of hope in this time of need.