Will Brisbane flood again?

I was going to make today’s post about beauty practices from around Asia but the bucketing rains all weekend have caused me to ponder whether another flood is in store for us, Brisbanites. The astrological chart I cast before purchasing my apartment says it is safe, but what about the rest of Brisbane? Rest assured, I will get down to fulfilling your curiosity about the weird and wonderful beauty practises Asians indulge in the very next post. For now, let us consider the rains.

It does usually pour at this time of the year but Saturday’s storm was so fierce, both my balconies turned into shallow swimming pools. I estimate there was roughly 4 to 5 cm of water in both, even though I live on the third floor! At one point, the accompanying winds were so strong His Royal Highness had to use our wrought-iron chairs to prevent our outdoor cupboard from toppling over. Before this, the very sturdy thing, holding everything from a laminator to empty Mac boxes, had never showed signs of falling down.

A picture of Saturday's (17/11/12) storm in Brisbane, Queensland.

Usually you can see the words “Cellarbration” in the distance and catch glimpses of Musgrave Park. This was all I saw on Saturday.

On Sunday, we even had HAIL in the evening, to accompany the downpour and thunder. I sat at this new pizza place called the Burrow, in Mollison Street, with His Royal Highness and Amanda, thankful for cover as the skies belted down on us five minutes into dinner.

A picture of the hail coming down in Brisbane on Sunday (18/11/12).

Can you see the hail? It’s the tiny white dots in the picture.

A picture of Amanda preparing for the storm outside.

The weather was foul outside. Inside, Amanda, sporting her new hair-cut, was preparing for the storm.

The experts say we are facing a wet weather pattern (La Nina) and that rains of this kind, which precipitated the flood of January 2011, are due to global warming. I sincerely hope we won’t see a return of the floods anytime soon, since most of my suburb, which houses Brisbane’s famed Cultural Precinct, is in a flood plain. During the height of Saturday’s storm, the management of my building asked residents to remove cars from the basement; we didn’t because where can you remove your cars to when other cars have already taken up the spots on higher ground?

Jackie Trad, our new MP for South Brisbane, is chairing a community meeting soon to discuss emergency action in the event of another flood. I’d share with you the details except it appears that His Royal Highness, in his eagerness to rid our house of thrash, in preparation of our exodus West, has thrown away the mail, with it any info I might have.

Walking home from school today, I saw council workers on most street corners cutting down fallen trees and branches. There were so many curb-closures to enable this work to be carried out, I had to walk in a roundabout fashion home, instead of taking my normal route.

While my apartment itself is definitely high enough to avoid future flooding, unfortunately the basement, where all electrical systems for the building is found, is not. It’s a common situation for most Brisbane apartments built before January 2011. According to the developer for a new project in South Brisbane I met yesterday while surveying a possible new home for myself on my return from the West, flood-proof architecture is now the new buzz-word in building. It’s more imperative for large scale projects like apartment buildings since damage usually runs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

To meet this cost, which may or may not be covered by insurance, even when insurance is taken out to cover such an event, owners are slapped with a special levy for repairs. Owners of units in my apartment for instance, had to pay an average of $5500 each, on top of our annual $7200 body corporate fees and $1500 in rates, to fix the flood damage. You’d appreciate that for many people, $14200 before any mortgage repayments is a lot of money; that’s what many single people living in the city, or small families living in the suburbs, pay in rent for a whole year.

With apartment buildings, flood-proofing includes putting electrical systems on higher floors or the roof instead of the basement and using the first few stories as car parking. Same goes for houses. Some quarters propose we raise all Queenslanders in flood plains above the flood levels of 2011, while others say this is pointless since many will be tempted to build under the raised house in order to have more living space; the normal reason why most Queenslanders are raised anyway.

Regardless of the Newman government’s plans to flood proof Queensland, I do so wish our coming summer to be a pleasant one; if not so that we may enjoy our beaches, then at least to avoid hip-pain from being slugged with another special levy.


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