Brisbane Residents Despair As Flood Leaves ‘War Zone’

"(BUSINESSWEEK)
Nick Turnbull’s two-story Brisbane home sits three-quarters submerged in floodwaters swamping riverside suburbs across Australia’s third-biggest city.

“Stuff’s everywhere -- kids’ toys floating on brown, dirty brackish water,” the 38-year-old police detective said from the suburb of Graceville, one of more than 60 Brisbane neighborhoods inundated by the worst floods since 1974. “It’s a real dengue- fever breeding ground for mosquitoes. A good place to avoid.”

Turnbull’s family joins thousands preparing to clean up after what Queensland state Premier Anna Bligh describes as a disaster of “post-war proportions.” About 30,000 homes and businesses may need to be demolished or repaired after a surge of water this week burst the banks of the Brisbane River, the waterway slicing through the heart of the city.

At least 26 people are dead and 60 missing after six weeks of floods left the coal- and sugar-producing state of Queensland in the nation’s northeast corner with a disaster area bigger than Texas and California combined. About 70 towns and cities have been affected, disrupting almost every state resident, Bligh said.

Bridges and arterial roads are cut off, more than 65,000 homes and businesses were without power, and public transport remains hamstrung as the waters linger. The cost to the nation may total as much as A$13 billion ($12.9 billion), or 1 percent of gross domestic product, Stephen Walters, chief economist for Australia at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Sydney, says.

Emergency Housing Essam Al-Quraishi, 36, who moved his wife and seven-year- old son from Baghdad four months ago, fled his ground-floor apartment in the suburb of St Lucia two days ago. They’ve lost all their possessions, he said from an evacuation center at the Brisbane show grounds."