Australia faces ‘biblical’ floods
Army helicopters dropped supplies to stranded towns, police patrolled in boats looking for looters, and families were warned of the risk from giant saltwater crocodiles and poisonous snakes being washed into urban areas.
An estimated 200,000 people have been affected by the floods, the worst in a century in some parts of the north-eastern state.
The cost in damage to infrastructure is expected to run into billions of pounds.
“In many ways, it is a disaster of biblical proportions,” Andrew Fraser, the Queensland Treasurer, said in the flooded city of Bundaberg on Saturday.
The state’s transport system has ground to a halt in places, and mining has been badly hit, with some companies telling customers abroad that they cannot deliver coal supplies. Steel production, another important industry, is also likely to be affected.
Some small towns have been completely evacuated, leaving only a few police behind to protect properties against looters. Flights over the floodwaters revealed vehicles floating and horses and cattle swimming to try to find dry land.
Police in the coastal city of Rockhampton, home to 77,000 people, were preparing families for evacuation before flood levels peak on Tuesday or Wednesday as massive amounts of water head downstream.
Brad Carter, the town’s mayor, warned that about 40 percent of the city could be submerged, and that residents must be prepared to evacuate to higher ground for at least two weeks. He warned that the town could be cut off for ten days, with the risk of flooding cutting roads and shutting down the town’s airport.