It’s been estimated that on 14 January 2011 80% of Queensland was under water. Tens of thousands of homes and businesses were either obliterated outright or rendered uninhabitable in less than a period of 72 hours. QLD Premier Anna Bligh has likened the state to a post war zone.

In this produce-rich state, responsible for stocking supermarkets across the country with fresh dairy, fruits and vegetables, crops just ready to harvest and livestock were washed out to sea. Hundreds of thousands of people were made suddenly homeless. Ironically, at least one Brisbane evacuation centre needed to be evacuated just after its first round of victims had settled in.

To show the magnitude of the Qld floods, I offer the following map of the United States (courtesy of Google Maps):  

Qld is roughly 668,204 sq. miles. In the US, this would be like combining Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kansas, Mississippi and Missouri, with about a fifth of New Mexico thrown in for good measure.  

80% of this land mass went under water. Take away Mississippi, Missouri and the bit of New Mexico and this is how much land sustained flood damage and needs to be rebuilt. Buildings, both home and commercial, roads, highways, power stations, sewage plants, fresh water suppliers, harbours, parks… the list goes on.  

Imagine being a diabetic, without insulin or medication and realizing that not only is your doctor’s surgery under water, but the chemist who keeps your records and fills your scripts no longer exists. Some rural doctors still aren’t online. Proving to a new chemist that you need insulin today won’t be easy without current medical records. (I am so glad my doctor lives in this century…)

Our beautiful pristine beaches will take decades to recover and it’s already been determined that the contaminated flood waters receding into the ocean are headed north toward the Great Barrier Reef where, if the toxins don’t kill off the coral, the soil and silt will choke out the oxygen necessary to maintain its plant and animal inhabitants. A scuba diving business off Frasier Island (north of Brisbane) has already reported visibility underwater has gone from a norm of 50 metres to less than one metre due to murky water being carried by the tides.

The website called nearmap places interactive satellite global images on the net. You can see the world at a glance or keep zooming in on an area until you can read traffic signs on the roads.  ABC News (Qld) has taken nearmap a step further and posted a slew of before and after images on their website, here. Just hover your mouse over the before image and the after image slides over the top.

Here are a few images taken of my little shire (click to enlarge):

I’m guessing my Water Aerobics class is cancelled…

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On days like today it’s good to take a moment and reflect the lives of people who lived through a lot worse than this and came out the other side having made a positive,  indelible difference on the world.

Thank you Dr. Martin Luther King – thank you for all  you sacrificed and all you taught. I hope we’re living up to the spirit of your dream…