Rockhampton Flood Redux – 2013

Posted on Fri 02/01/2013 by


Fitzroy River Basin

Fitzroy River Basin

While the rest of most of Australia’s Eastern seaboard is recovering from, and cleaning up after the major flood following the huge rain event I mentioned in this earlier Post, the flood peak here in Rockhampton doesn’t arrive until later tonight (Friday) or early tomorrow morning.

Unlike last time in January 2011, when the Fitzroy River peaked at 9.25 Metres, (30 feet) this time it’s only going to get to 8.55 Metres (27 feet 9 inches) but that’s still enough to cause major flooding in the usual low lying suburb of Depot Hill, which is on the other side of the Fitzroy River, (on the South side) while where I live here, on the North Side, well we are okay, and will not be affected by rising flood waters as the River bursts its banks.

This is a virtual repeat of the major flood event of 2011, which I covered extensively in a series of Posts at the time. The first of those Posts is at the following link, and at the bottom of that Post, I have included the links to the other 7 Posts in that series.

Queensland Australia Flood Disaster Central – Rockhampton

As it was then, the problem with Rockhampton is that we are on the second largest River system in Australia, and that River system is explained in some depth at this link.  That River Basin is shown in the image above, and if you click on that image, it will open on a new and larger page. There are 9 major Rivers all feeding into the Fitzroy, and all those rivers bar one, the Nogoa, are all in flood as well, and all that water takes time to get to us here, and while the huge rain event started ten days ago, it’s taken that long for all that feed water to arrive here, and because there’s so much of it, it’s going to take a week to ten days to go down after the peak arrives.

The roads to the North are open, and the Bruce Highway to the South is also open, but only just, as traffic is moving, albeit slowly in up to a foot of water in some places, some a couple of miles wide, so those areas are patrolled so the speed is kept down, naturally.

Because everything comes from the South and the State Capital, Brisbane, the big rig semi trailers that bring us everything are running at a considerably reduced rate than they normally do, as that Bruce Highway from Brisbane is still cut in two or three places, and regular movement won’t start for probably another three to 4 days at the earliest.

The usual bad point here in Rockhampton is the Yeppen Roundabout a huge roundabout about a quarter mile across. That’s the place that always floods first, and it’s the main entry point to Rocky, and also feeds West to Central Queensland. They are expecting that to remain open, also just, and with water over the road. Since the last flood two years back, they have started work to raise all that area, but you know these things take time, and while more than a year was in planning, work is still only half completed there, so this new flood sets that back somewhat.

The airport will stay open this time, also just, and with reduced traffic, mainly because the length of the landing area on the strip has been shortened somewhat, so none of the bigger passenger aircraft are arriving.

No trains have come past here for 10 days now, and probably will not for another ten days, and the same applies with those huge coal trains coming from the huge coalfields to the West of Rockhampton. Each of those trains has 5 locomotives hauling 100 carriages, each holding 100 tons of coal, hence 10,000 tons of coal, and those coal trains run on the hour, so that’s almost a quarter of a million tons of coal not moving to the coal loading ports to the South of here, and for a fifteen to twenty day closure at best, that’s a huge amount of coal not being moved for export.

While the flood level may seem close to what it was last time that lesser amount this time, even while only 2 feet makes all the difference, and that means probably 1000 homes or more with not as much flood damage as last time.

The biggest problem we face personally is food supplies.

Yesterday was our usual shopping day, and the major Supermarkets, Coles and Woolworths here in Australia, have run out of the usual things that go first when panic buying sets in.

The first to go are milk and bread, and they are gone virtually from day one of the rain event 9 days back. Over the next couple of days, that had expanded out to fresh fruit and vegetables, bottled water, all dairy products, meat, smallgoods, (ham, cheese, and bacon etc from the deli) canned beans (hey, and this leads nicely into the next one) toilet paper, all gone. All powdered milk is gone too. Batteries are in short supply also.

Our usual supermarket was at the lowest state of stock I have ever seen in any Supermarket anywhere here, and in other places I have lived here in Australia.

We had to drive around and we visited three supermarkets in all to get nearly everything we usually do. There’s only the two of us, so we don’t need all that much, and we’re right as far as all we need.

Being short on stock, we couldn’t get our usual for Thursday night dinner, sliced ham, tomato and cheese on soft buttered buns, and we struck out on every one of them, so I mentioned to my good lady wife that we might have take away barbecue chicken and chips instead. So, I visited our closest one, Red Rooster, around two miles away, and I got a whole barbecued chicken cut into 4, some chips and a tub of gravy, and a tub of coleslaw. The young girl behind the counter told me I was lucky as the chickens had only arrived four hours earlier, their first delivery for four days, and they had only just got up and running. Also, she proudly mentioned that this take away was the only place in Rockhampton that had hot chicken, well any chicken at all, and they were the only one who got this delivery. There’s one other Red Rooster and 3 KFC outlets, and a couple of other majors, one of them Nandos, and a number of small take away shops that do chicken as well, and even the large supermarkets who all do barbecued chicken as well, and they’ve all been without chicken for two or three days. Even the McDonalds, and there’s four of them here in Rocky had to reduce operations or even close down, because, and wait for this, they ran out of ……. food, all of it, not just beef for their burgers but all food.

This morning I went out early. We have a small ‘corner store’ type supermarket close to us, around a mile and half away. It’s about a tenth the size of the large supermarkets, but has some of those other staples while the big guys run out. I got there just after opening time. The guy was busy stacking up the fruit and veg department, really small, but containing exactly what I wanted, potatoes, which are out of stock everywhere. He had just finished stacking them, around 100 KG in all, (220 pounds) and while that sound s like a lot, it’s a stack around 4 feet by 4 feet by a foot and half high, and that’s not very many potatoes. I was the first person to get any of them, and while the guy was still stacking up on other fruit and veg, I said to him that he must be working flat out. He said this was the first delivery of potatoes, well, all fruit and vegetables, for five days, and those potatoes he had just finished stacking, well he expected them to be gone within an hour. I also got 2 Litres of milk there and same thing, that had only just come in also, and was also expected to be gone within the hour. Unlike some others, I only took what I needed at that time, so there would be enough left for others.

Next door to this small supermarket was a hot bread shop, and they have been working flat out 24 hours a day for the last 8 or 9 days, making bread, and lots of it, mainly for the large local supermarkets. There were two trucks out the front and they were being loaded with loaves baked during the night. I got one large loaf, because I just love my large sliced bread, and some soft buns, sort of the same size as hamburger buns I suppose.

While I was out, I also got $20 worth of petrol, as again, that also runs out fast here in a flood, and again, they had only got their first tanker in during the night as well.

So, personally, we’re pretty right I guess.

The electricity was only off for 9 hours last Friday, and is not expected to go off again. The phone services have been down twice so far, both for around most of a day each time, and that was both landlines and mobile phones, as well as Internet connection, and even yesterday, while they were still online, Internet connectivity was as slow as all get out, and I couldn’t email out or in and for the Internet, pages were loading even slower than for dial up, and that’s if they loaded up at all, and most didn’t, timing out before loading.

So, despite a major flood event still happening, life is good.

It’s as hot as hell here, around 37/38C (100F) most days, and sticky too. I mowed the other day, and the lawn will need mowing again tomorrow, barely 4 days since the last mowing. The grass grows while you watch it.

Tonight we are having a barbecue at our daughter’s family with some other friends.

As I said, life is good for me, and while I have it relatively easy, I have nothing but sympathy for those in this area and other areas who have been virtually wiped out, some of them twice and three times in the last two years.