Saturday, January 15, 2011
Australians grieve, search for more flood victims
Survivors of devastating Australian floods sought solace Sunday in church services while emergency workers searched through sodden wrecked homes for victims.
Three weeks of flooding across Australia's northeast have left a vast territory underwater and caused 27 deaths, most of them from a flash flood that hit towns west of Brisbane on Monday. Fourteen people are still missing.
In Grantham, described as the epicenter of the flash flood, 70 percent of the town remained cordoned off while searchers looked for bodies. The body of one woman was found Sunday in her wrecked house.
People I hope will understand the pressure that the police are working under in these sorts of circumstances and be patient," Queensland state Premier Anna Bligh said. "They are working as hard as they can to be in a position to allow people back into Grantham as quickly as possible."
The wall of water that swept through the town left dozens of smashed cars wedged in trees or bogged in fields, tilted houses off foundations and piled up muddied belongings in the streets.
In nearby Murphys Creek, a church service at the local pub was held for survivors to grieve and remember their lost friends and family.
"Words really cannot express what the people of the Lockyer Valley are feeling at the moment," local parliament representative Scott Buchholz said after the service. They "are emotionally fragile yet display a bravery that is remarkable."
Cleanup continued in Australia's third-largest city, Brisbane, where 30,000 homes and businesses were flooded. The complete cleanup could take months and reconstruction up to two years.
The engorged rivers that flooded towns in Queensland state have spread into states to the south. In New South Wales, nearly 7,000 people have been isolated by floodwaters that overflowed highways and emergency services helicopters air-dropped food and other supplies to residents.
In northern Victoria, a dozen small communities were sandbagging amid fears of high-peaking rivers, and 3,000 people have evacuated.