Australia : Inundation Nation (3)

Received by e-mail from Australia
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18 January 2011

Hi Jo,

Thanks for this. The thoughts and prayers of […] friends are much appreciated.

Yes, the flooding across huge swathes of eastern Australia ([Queensland], [New South Wales], Victoria, Tasmania) has been terrible. The sheer scale of it is hard to comprehend. It hasn’t affected the areas of New South Wales where my family lives. We are, however, experiencing a very sticky and rainy Summer.

Queensland

Three quarters of the state of Queensland, an enormous area, has been declared a disaster zone. Major population centres, including Brisbane, Bundaberg and Toowoomba have been affected, as well as various towns.

Horribly, in the Lockyer Valley, a sudden tide of water swept people to their deaths. Some 20 people have died across the state and there are still about ten missing.

The impact on farmers from the floods is severe. Mining has also been affected – including coal export – which has been talked about in the media largely without irony.

The [Queensland] Premier has announced a commission of inquiry into the disaster, and has launched a flood appeal. Emergency funding packages are being made available to people affected. A flood recovery taskforce has been established.

It has been terrible, but at the same time I have been struck throughout how relatively well equipped Australia is to cope with such circumstances – in contrast, for example, to Brazil and Pakistan.

I am also glad to see how communities come together and support each other. I pray for such coming together before – not just after – the fact in the face of the challenge of climate change.

Victoria

Dozens of towns in Victoria have also been flooded. The town of Horsham, on the Wimmera River, has seen its largest ever recorded flood.

As for Queensland, emergency funding, a flood appeal, and a recovery taskforce have been established. As far as I am aware, there have as yet been no deaths in Victoria.

The Churches’ Responses

Churches across the country are offering support to flood affected communities.

To read about various appeals and statements, see :-

http://www.ncca.org.au/

For an account of ecumenical cooperation, see :-

http://www.journeyonline.com.au/showArticle.php?articleId=2657

[…] might also be interested to see a flood liturgy and intercessory prayers which were written by members of the Uniting Church […] :-

http://www.journeyonline.com.au/showArticle.php?articleId=2654.

The intercessory prayer says :-

“Creator God,
We pray for all those in farms, small towns, and cities in Australia whose lives have been disrupted and whose dreams have been dashed by the floods that have devastated the country.
We pray for those who have lost their homes, their cars, their treasured possessions, their crops, their animals, and their livelihoods. It is a terrible thing to be homeless and helpless.
Be with and sustain those whose entire world has been torn apart and washed away.
Assuage their fears and be patient with their anger.
Grant them patience and hope that eventually they can rebuild their lives and start afresh.
We are grateful to the emergency flood workers and all those who were heroes in helping those in distress during the floods.
May they continue their missions of mercy.
Be with those who are caring for flood victims that their compassion and presence will be life-sustaining.
May they continue their missions of mercy.
We are thankful for those who serve others and provide us all with the inspiration to do the same.
We are sending love, peace, strength, and courage to all our brothers and sisters in Australia.
May this nightmare end shortly.
May healing begin swiftly.”

It is too soon to estimate the damage bill, and the crisis is ongoing, but I have heard figures of up to [AUD] $20 billion.

See the following article about the links between climate change and the flooding : http://www.climateactioncentre.org/floodsclimatechange.

What seems clear is that higher ocean temperatures result in increased evaporation, increasing the amount of rain in this current La Nina cycle that is affecting eastern Australia.

This flooding comes on the back of severe drought, and in the middle of a consultation process in the development of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan – a national plan of management for the huge Murray-Darling river system, which runs through [Queensland], [New South Wales], [Australian Capital Territory], Victoria and South Australia.

The Murray Darling Basin has been overexploited and placed under severe stress – stress that may be temporarily abated with flooding but which will inevitably return.

Peace and love,

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