The Queensland Floods – The Brisbane River Hits Its Peak

Queensland Flood reach a train overpass

By Thursday there was still no power and with the Brisbane river still set to peak we tried to keep the radio going as much as possible. The water had again risen from the day before but not as dramatically. Over the previous two days we had heard various different peak heights so we have no idea how high the water is going to get we just had to wait.

During the day I watched State Emergency Services crews evacuate the next street over and flatmates spotted them swimming in the waters I assume checking on properties. The helicopter traffic overhead continued to be pretty crazy and makes the day pretty loud.

SES crews swimming through Queensland flood waters
SES crews swimming through the waters

Amazingly, the water does not get much higher. It goes maybe a foot over the street signs and stops. We are all relieved but the river peak is not our only concern. Though the river peak might have been lower than expected the river damn further up stream was at breaking point. To relieve pressure, all flood gates had been opened but the despite these measures the damn was sitting at 200% capacity, not that I’m a math genius but that is clearly more than it can safely hold.

At this point we were not sure if the tap water was still drinkable or if it was contaminated. We still had no power and this was causing problems for cooking too but a lack for food was making things more interesting too. In hindsight we should have prepared much more than we had but now there wasn’t much that could be done.

State Emergency Services performing checks on homes during the Queensland floods
State Emergency Services performing checks on homes

The night before everyone in the flat had pulled food together and we all had a big dinner together and on Thursday we decided to do the same. Since we were all trapped in the house together we made the most of it and after a very slow day of book reading and radio listening we ended up playing monopoly by torch light.

It turned out to be quite a loud game and rivalry was quite fierce. Eventually, after four hours we abandon the game. But guess what…I won! We played teams and myself and my new Colombian flatmate ended up with lots of property and thousands of dollars; I think it must be the first time I have ever won monopoly.

Monopoly during Brisbanes flooding
Playing Monopoly by torch light

While the waters had peaked the ordeal was certainly not over and we still had to wait for it to recede before we could assess the damage. Being so cut off we have no idea what the rest of Brisbane looked like. No idea how many streets had been washed away, how many homes had been affected or families displaced. From the radio reports we knew that someone died in a neighbouring suburb bringing the confirmed death toll of the Queensland floods to 16 but we all knew that was not to be a final figure.

Brisbane's Coronation Drive, during the Queensland floods
Coronation Drive, the city’s main thoroughfare submerged and abandoned

We were grateful to live on a hill, grateful to that the flood waters hadn’t got as high as our home on the day they were due to peak and grateful for each other in such a stressful time but things were far from over.  We had waited for the water to arrive, to peak and now it was a waiting game for them to recede.