A six metre high wall of water descended on the city, in a deadly, fast-moving torrent which swept people off their feet, cars down city streets and houses off their foundations. Cars were tossed around like Matchbox toys.
From Toowoomba, situated on a mountain plateau, the water descended on the smaller towns of Grantham, Gatton and other smaller communities. Whole towns were evacuated from rooftops but there are 9 confirmed deaths including children. A woman and child died in Toowoomba when their car was swept away in floodwaters in the CBD. A man and a boy also died at Murphy’s Creek in the Lockyer Valley when they were swept from a house and two women and a child died at Grantham.
66 people are still missing. Weather is so bad that rescue crews are unable to get to the flooded areas to check for more survivors. The death toll is expected to increase dramatically.
The Queensland Premier says the flash floods are without doubt Queensland’s “darkest hour”. She said, “The event that started in Toowoomba can only be described as a complete freak of nature, an extraordinary deluge that almost came out of nowhere. What we have here in Queensland tonight is a very grim and desperate situation. There are many Queenslanders tonight in critical and dire circumstances.”
Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson says it has been a grim day for the State’s south-east. “This has been a terrible day, a terrible day. Early reports would indicate that what hit Toowoomba could best be described as an inland instant tsunami, with a massive wall of water that’s gone down through the Lockyer Valley,” he said.
The tragedy in Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley is the latest in a string of floods down the coast of Queensland, affecting a very large number of towns and cities and wiping out crops in country areas. Over one half of Queensland is now declared a disaster area and the floods are now also moving into NSW and claiming towns there. The cost of recovery is expected to be many tens of billions of dollars – plus all the loss and damage to private houses and businesses which have been inundated and many destroyed.
Brisbane, the capital city and nearby Ipswich another major city are now evacuating low lying areas. Areas are already flooded and the peak is expected to top the highest recorded – more than a hundred years ago. 32 Brisbane suburbs and over 400 streets of Ipswich are expecting severe flooding.
CHRISTIANS: Please pray for the people of Queensland, especially for those who have lost loved ones, and pray that no more lives will be lost. Pray for those who have lost their homes and in many cases, everything they own.
(PS I live in Bundaberg which was severely flooded. There was enormous damage and loss, but not in comparison with Toowoomba. We live in a high and dry area and suffered no more than a little inconvenience.)