Australia’s flooding woes

Parts of north-eastern Australia
have been declared a disaster zone after flooding from days of torrential rain.

The worst floods in half a century
in Australia have inundated towns across the state of Queensland, forcing the evacuation
of entire communities as dams larger than Sydney Harbour threaten to breach
their banks.

The Australian government promised
aid to the worst affected and provided two Black Hawk helicopters to help
evacuate all 300 residents from the inland town of Theodore.

The office of Prime Minister Julia
Gillard announced that 31 of Queensland’s 73 communities were now receiving government
disaster assistance.

The coastal city of Bundaberg —
declared a disaster area — was bracing for its highest flood peak in 50 years.

In Rockhampton, a city to the
north, residents could face forced evacuations later this week as floodwaters
rise. Emergency Management Queensland boss Bruce Grady said that Rockhampton
would see “a significant flood, likely to close road and rail
access.”

The town of Dalby, three hours
drive west of the state capital Brisbane, meanwhile, had just two days of
drinking water left.

The rain has been falling on
Queensland since 18 December. Forecasters predicted the weather would clear
over the next 48 hours, but water built up in river catchment areas meant the
worst of flooding in some areas was still to come.

Economists estimate the floods will
strip up to $6 billion from the national economy, as ruined crops and
water-logged mines are expected to depress export volumes over the next three
months.

Although a recovery in exports is
expected later next year, the flooding was likely to push up food prices,
increasing inflation.

WORLDstory

An aerial of the flooding in Chincilla, one of the towns hit hard by the flooding.
Photo: BBC News
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