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Gingersnap
01-11-2011, 03:47 PM
Scores Missing In Tsunami-Like Flood In Australia

by NPR Staff and Wires

http://i55.tinypic.com/33p8o6u.jpg
A man is rescued by emergency workers after he was stranded clinging to a tree on a flooded street in the city of Toowoomba in Queensland, Australia.

January 11, 2011

Greg Kowald was driving through the center of Toowoomba when a terrifying, tsunami-like wall of water roared through the streets of the northeast Australian city.

Office windows exploded, cars careened into trees and bobbed in the churning brown water like corks. The deluge washed away bridges and sidewalks; people desperately clung to power poles to survive.

"The water was literally leaping, six or 10 feet into the air, through creeks and over bridges and into parks," Kowald, a 53-year-old musician, told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "There was nowhere to escape, even if there had been warnings. There was just a sea of water about a half a mile wide."

Before it was over, the flash flood left at least 10 dead and 78 missing. The state government fears that the death toll could more than double, said Neale Maynard, a newspaper editor in nearby Brisbane who spoke with NPR's Morning Edition on Tuesday. "Authorities are still searching for bodies, and also, because the flooding was so widespread and so severe, they're worried that a great many more people may yet be found."

The violent surge in Toowoomba brought the overall death toll from weeks of flooding in Queensland state to 20, a sudden acceleration in a crisis that had been unfolding gradually with swollen rivers overflowing their banks and inundating towns while moving toward the ocean.

The high waters headed next to Australia's third-largest city, Brisbane, where up to 9,000 homes were expected to be swamped. The Brisbane River overflowed its banks Tuesday and officials warned that dozens of low-lying neighborhoods and parts of downtown could be inundated in coming days.

But nothing downstream was expected to be as fierce as the flash flood that struck Toowoomba on Monday. It was sparked by a freak storm up to 6 inches fell in a half-hour.

"Yesterday afternoon a particularly intense cell moved over Toowoomba, which is a mountain city of about 130,000 people," said Maynard, an editor at Brisbane's Courier Mail newspaper. "They had very, very heavy rain ... on top of all the other rain they'd had. Toowoomba is a city 2,000 feet above sea level. It doesn't normally flood."

In fact, it just about ran out of water last summer, Maynard said. But all of a sudden, a wall of water ripped through the middle of the city, picking up cars and throwing them into trees, wrapping them around bridge posts and sweeping a number of people to their deaths, he said.

NPR (http://www.npr.org/2011/01/11/132828650/scores-missing-in-tsunami-like-flood-in-australia)

malloc
01-11-2011, 04:31 PM
I was watching coverage of this on the BBC after Top Gear last night. Doesn't Sonna do search & rescue work down there? I wonder if he's involved at all?

Sonnabend
01-11-2011, 05:42 PM
I did a long time ago, resigned when my wife's health started to fail. Immensely proud of the work they're doing. This is a harsh land and we know the land will throw this at us..doesn't matter...we never give up.

malloc
01-11-2011, 06:18 PM
You should be proud of them. Every other shot of BBC World News was of someone being plucked off a roof by a helicopter team, or being pulled out of a car that appeared to be surfing down the desert. There was also some shots of what appeared to be cars jammed up against guard rails like driftwood.

Can level of flooding be expected every wet season, or is this one particularly bad?

Sonnabend
01-12-2011, 05:40 AM
This has happened before, back in the 70's..and it will again. We know that this land is harsh and unrelenting, we know full well Nature's fury..and we know that when we stand and fight together, we will win in the end.

We are Australians.

Bailey
01-12-2011, 06:52 AM
This has happened before, back in the 70's..and it will again. We know that this land is harsh and unrelenting, we know full well Nature's fury..and we know that when we stand and fight together, we will win in the end.

We are Australians.

*cue* theatrical action music :D