From Drought To Flood, Queensland's Woes Go On

by
staphni
"(CNN)
Brisbane is more accustomed to drought than flood. For many years, residents were obliged to adhere to strict water restrictions during the long wait for rain.

Daily updates were given as to how little water remained in dams that are now full to overflowing. Locals were encouraged to invest in their own water tanks to ease pressure on the system.

The city's residents were given specific days and times to water their gardens, according to their house numbers. Neighbors kept an eye out for wasteful practices and it wasn't unheard of for people to sneak out under the cover of darkness to give their dying plants an extra drop.

Just a few years later, the city has been inundated with water, amid warnings there is more to come. The rain has been pelting down for days if not weeks. Rain used to be celebrated here. Now people are praying for it to stop. The ground is so saturated it doesn't take long for each downpour to start pooling and gushing towards already overflowing drains.

The last time Brisbane experienced flooding on this scale was in January 1974. Older residents remember when weeks of rain combined with the effects of a cyclone and exceptionally high tides to flood the city. Water washed into thousands of homes and 14 people died.

Lessons from that disaster formed much of the preparation for this week's flood warnings. A massive dam with a capacity of more than one million megaliters -- about the size of two Sydney Harbours -- was built at Wivenhoe, west of the city, to provide flood protection system. That dam is now full and authorities are releasing increasing amounts of water to ease pressure on its walls. "