‘Floods of biblical proportions’

Queensland flooding

Some of the flood affected area in Queensland, Australia. Photograph by Shairon Paterson, courtesy Pipeline.

Many Australians left homeless from the worst floods in 20 years.

Reports that “the worst is yet to come” were not good news to thousands of Australians filling sandbags and packing up belongings in order to evacuate their homes.

The Salvation Army, along with other agencies, has been at work assisting the many thousands of people in Central Queensland affected by the floods.

The flooding—due to torrential rains—began before Christmas and has not abated, leaving the region under a sea of murky water. Four thousand people have been evacuated. Floods have inundated around 1,200 homes and damaged another 10,700, disrupting life in an area the size of France and Germany combined. At one point more than 200,000 properties were without power. The known death toll stands at eight; 72 people are missing. Poisonous snakes are climbing in trees and hiding in houses seeking dry refuge.

The deluge has caused major economic concerns, shutting down three-quarters of the state’s coalmines and destroying crops.

North Queensland Divisional Commander Major Rodney Walters has been helping to coordinate the Army’s relief effort from divisional headquarters. The Salvation Army Flying Padre helicopter service has been transporting supplies to stricken communities and rescuing people trapped in dangerous situations.

“It’s been raining virtually non-stop for days on end and with many rivers still to reach their predicted peak, the worst is yet to come in terms of flooding,” Walters said.

With river levels in many areas not expected to peak until mid January, The Salvation Army is bracing itself for relief efforts to continue well into 2011. The disaster is expected to cost the government several billion U.S. dollars.

Retired Majors Don and Eva Hill have had no breaks since floodwaters entered the Emerald area. Their evacuation center—located at the local agricultural college—was handling up to 160 residents at one time. The college’s two cooks supported them from their kitchen.

“I don’t know where it [food] was coming from,” Don Hill said, “but it came. One day when a truck pulled up with a load of food, one of the cooks—who is not a professing Christian—said: ‘God must be real.’”

Flooding at The Salvation Army’s Bundaberg Welfare Centre. Photograph courtesy International Headquarters.

Sources include Bill and Scott Simpson (international news releases), Radio France Internationale, and Yahoo! News

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