Deadly Floods Hit Australia's Third-Largest City

The waters reach Brisbane, as thousands evacuate to collection centers

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As feared, the devastating floods that have already killed at least 30 people in Australia have reached Brisbane, the country's third-largest city with two million people. Locals evacuates an estimated 20,000 homes in the area. Evacuation centers already hold 3,500 displaced Australians. But the full damage will go unknown until the floodwaters finally recede, which officials predict will happen this weekend. In the meantime, here's what Australia-watchers are saying about the ongoing disaster, stunning video of which is below.

Climate change has likely intensified the monsoon rains that have triggered record floods in Australia's Queensland state, scientists said on Wednesday, with several months of heavy rain and storms still to come. ... The rains have been blamed on one of the strongest La Nina patterns ever recorded. La Nina is a cooling of ocean temperatures in the east and central Pacific, which usually leads to more rain over much of Australia, Indonesia and other parts of Southeast Asia. This is because the phenomena leads to stronger easterly winds in the tropics that pile up warm water in the western Pacific and around Australia.

  • Global Economic Repercussions  "Queensland residents are now facing billions of dollars in flood damage," The New York Times' Meraiah Foley reports. "One member of Australia’s Reserve Bank warned Wednesday that the disaster could shave up to 1 percent off Australia’s gross domestic product. The floods have virtually paralyzed the state’s lucrative coal and agricultural industries. Queensland produces roughly one-third of the world’s supply of coking coal, used in the production of steel. Industry analysts say global prices of coking coal and thermal coal, used to supply power plants, would rise because of the flooding."
  • Australia's Environment Is Dangerous  Judith Ireland writes in the Guardian, that, "all over the country, Australians know from bitter experience that we live in an unpredictable and potentially unforgiving environment. Yet surprisingly, we aren't defined by it." She lists some examples of the continent's environmental dangers and disasters: "The 1989 Newcastle earthquake and 2009 Victorian bushfires. ... Major floods in Victoria late last year and the Queensland flood crisis entering its 21st day. Elsewhere in Australia this week we've had floods again in Victoria, bushfires in Western Australia and wild storms in the Northern Territory."
  • Did Australia Not Learn Lessons of '74 Flood?  Time's Marina Kamenev notes that a similar, but less severe, flood hit Brisbane in 1974. "Many residents are wondering why some precautions weren't taken earlier. At his downtown office, a government building, colleagues who didn't receive get message to say home were staring at the damage to their workplace. 'It's a new government building,' said one passerby. 'Surely they would know not to build there.' Pedler said another department had a flood mark as a reminder of 1974. 'We always used to laugh at that and think why on earth would you build something below a floodline,' said Pedler. 'They obviously thought that a flood like that would never happen again.'"
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