Floods in Australia and Their Conseguences

Imagine in two days’ time, over 1.6 feet of water has fallen in your city, sweeping away all your belongings, leaving behind only you and your sopping wet home. Recently in Northern Queensland, Australia, a state of disaster has been declared by the state of emergency service. According to experts and meteorologists, Northern Queensland, Australia has endured the worst flooding in history, with over 500mm of rain falling in 48 hours (ABC 2019). Queensland, Australia was devastated by a disaster that can be categorized as both natural and unnatural with the economically poor people and farmers being crushed by their vulnerability, however, rather than focusing on the people and how they can recover from the storm and better protect themselves, the news focused on the cost-effects of the storm within various towns in Australia and people missing within the storm.

Flooding begins in late January and continued through early February 2019. Some areas of Queensland have been subjected to four feet of rainfall; which is enough rain for an entire year (ABC).

The city of Townsville was hit most drastically, as entire suburbs have been completely submerged because of its location below a major dam. On Sunday, February 3rd, 400 to 500 houses in Townsville had flooded, and the release of the Ross River Dam threatened many more. The dam was at 247 percent capacity from the rainfall before city officials began releasing 2,000 cubic meters of water per second later the evening of February 3rd. When the dam’s gates were fully opened, the residents of the low-lying Townsville suburbs had to be evacuated as the water was overflowing so fast.

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City officials had to release the dam as they feared the dam would burst, causing greater damage, however, residents were upset they didn’t release the dam earlier and at slower rates. By releasing the dam slowly, the people of Townsville believed it would’ve have alleviated some of the flooding because the land and homes were ruined from a combination of the rain and dam water. Not only did the water, submerge the land and homes, it resulted in fatalities of both humans and animals (BBC 2019). The farmers were most vulnerable to the monsoon floods because they lost their homes, land, and livestock, and they continued to try to preserve their livelihood (SBS 2019). The residents of Townsville lost many personal possessions and homes, but were able to eventually evacuate to safer areas. Unfortunately, the farmers were not equipped or prepare to move their large herds to safety.

The extremely heavy rainfall that led to this flooding in Australia was predicted to have been brought on by two unconnected weather events, one is natural and one being unnatural. The warm water trapped off the Australian Coast led to cloud development and heavy rainfall known as La Nina. In addition, meteorologist and reporters claim that climate change was a factor in the record-breaking run. Climate change is known as an increase in levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere due to humans use of fossil fuels and pollution. Therefore, it affected the amount of rainfall because “a warmer atmosphere and ocean will generally lead to an increased likelihood and severity of heavy rainfall events globally” (ABC 2019). Moreover, explaining how the flooding can be categorized as both natural and unnatural, as both weather and humans had an effect on the flooding. Aside, from the weather and climate change, it is believed that the dam was released too late, leading to additional flooding because the land could not sustain all the water being released. Therefore, there are both natural and unnatural causes that led to the flooding becoming a disaster that continues to devastate Australia.

Many claim that Australia manages disasters based on the one in 100 years, disasters while the rest of the world is closely monitoring disasters as much as possible. The velocity at which the water was spilling out of the dam was so intense that this flood was rated as the worst flood in history (ABC 2019). Queensland environment makes it very vulnerable to natural disasters and has experienced many floods in the past, such as the flood of 2011 which led to 2.4 billion dollars in damage and 36 deaths (SBS).

The citizens were and still are unprepared for natural disasters. Those most vulnerable included the farmers and the economically poor, for example, those who lived in low lying lands or were homeless who have no means of shelter from the flooding. In addition, those with little to no money do not have the necessary funds to have their house on stilts or in high lying land due to high prices and farmers did not have the equipment to transport the livestock. Moreover, many were unable to evacuate if public transportation was not provided, as many people who were economically poor did not own their own means of transportation (SBS).

Northern Queensland had many more issues that came with the raised water levels as well. Citizens were warned to stay out of any of the flooded areas as many alligators and dangerous snakes have been spotted in urban areas, as well as the possibility of contaminated water (BBC). It was also reported that over 300,000 cattle died due to the floods, and this, as well as loss of fences, troughs, and other infrastructure will have a huge impact on many of the rural communities as well (SBS). Queensland needs to reflect on this flood and determine ways to prepare its citizens for more extreme disaster such as having policies and government support systems in place for evacuations and shelters, as well as greater monitoring of the dam to avoid rapid release of water.

Aside from the disaster, the different news both in Australia and abroad covered very different areas of the flooding. When researching different news articles in order to give accurate information about the event the international news source BBC choose to focus on the amount of water flooding the land and contrasts with other cities stricken by drought. The news, detailed that cars and livestock had been swept away by the flood waters and how the army had been forced to set up sandbags to protect homes not flooded yet. In addition, they covered other natural disasters occurring in Australia including the severe drought and wildfires. The article posted by BBC, focused on an empathetic approach to the situation by choosing to show how citizens and rescue efforts were handling the situation and succeeding through it, rather than ask for donations and help from other countries.

In another article by news source, SBS, takes a stance on the pity approach by detailing how people from the flood are missing, how the towns have been flooded-ravaged, and the major financial toll it is taking in the area. By focusing on an approach from the pity perspective, it makes the reader feel bad for Australia and feels compelled to donate to support their recovery. In contrast, ABC news focused on the scientific approach leading to an empathetic feeling, by showing how Australia was recovering on their own and succeeding. The article stated many statistics from the flood like how much rain fell and the prediction of how climate change could be involved. Therefore, it did not evoke much emotion, rather it provided factual knowledge about the flood.

As Queensland has a high occurrence of natural disasters and has experienced flooding more frequent, many improvements need to be made to adapt to the weather phenomena taking place. With growing climate changes, many people predict that these disasters will occur even more often. By improving disaster preparedness with rescue efforts for farmers, moving residents to higher levels of land or building home up on stilts, and a higher level of surveillance of their dam to ensure water release rates are modulated, Queensland will be able protect its residents and farmers supporting their communities and continue to be home to many people.

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Floods in Australia and Their Conseguences. (2022, Apr 19). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/floods-in-australia-and-their-conseguences/

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