Queensland Floods: Shattered Residents Start Picking Up Pieces

January 13, 2011 Updated: January 13, 2011

Queensland floods: Residential suburbs inundated by the swollen Brisbane River as flood waters devastate much of Brisbane on Jan. 13, 2011. (Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images)
Queensland floods: Residential suburbs inundated by the swollen Brisbane River as flood waters devastate much of Brisbane on Jan. 13, 2011. (Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images)
The Brisbane River peaked at 4.46 metres early this morning, one metre lower than the floods of 1974, but in a city now built up and sprawling.

Today, locals began to face the challenge of returning to a normal life, a task that could take months or even years, with more than 26,000 homes and 5,000 businesses in 67 suburbs affected.

For some families, the death of loved ones means life will never be the same again. So far 15 people have lost their lives and 61 were still missing late on Thursday.

Queensland Government worker Rebecca Stevens says her family got off lightly, and described the whole experience as "bittersweet."

"Our own home hasn't been affected because we're far from the river (in Sunnybank), but we have a rental property in Indooroopilly that is currently sitting in one metre of water," she said. "Last night it was two metres deep, but the waters have receded a bit, but still not enough to go inside."

"But we are safe and have all our belongings, and I feel rather guilty even talking about our impact, because it's not much compared to some people," she said.

"This is likely to be a big setback for us financially—particularly given that both my husband and I work in the CBD and I'm not sure when we'll be back at work."

Queensland floods: The Stevens' rental property in Indooroopilly is currently sitting in one metre of water, after it peaked at two metres last night. (Courtesy of Rebecca Stevens)
Queensland floods: The Stevens' rental property in Indooroopilly is currently sitting in one metre of water, after it peaked at two metres last night. (Courtesy of Rebecca Stevens)
Rebecca's family hopes to access the property by the weekend to begin the arduous cleanup. "I'm not looking forward to the possible sewage, filth, mosquitoes and even snakes that we might find—the property is near parkland, so I guess we might find more than we expect."

She says the immediate impact on the people of Brisbane remains unclear. More than 150 roads are still closed, and parts of the city are without power and public transport, with shops closed.

"Already the shops shelves are empty," she said. "There were a lot of people walking around, looking at the waters, probably partly in shock about what they were seeing."

She praised the state and local government's efforts in managing the crisis, saying, "From what I've seen so far, the response from all the authorities has been wonderful. Now we all have to get behind them and do our part to help rebuild Brisbane."

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