Brisbane River & Floods

In January 2011, the state capital of Queensland, Brisbane, faced the second highest flood since the start of the 20th century. Major flooding occurred throughout the Brisbane River catchment, the Lockyer Creek and Bremer River. Which has now fundamentally impacted the residential property market. At the peak of the flood, approximately 11,900 homes were completely flooded while a further 14,700 homes were partially flooded.

Numerous flood height records were broken and many suffered vastly from economic, social and environmental impacts. However, to what extent did the severity of the economic impact have on the communities and industries after a critical natural disaster? The disruption in Brisbane includes effects on major industries such as agriculture, tourism, retail trade and manufacturing. The research posed in this paper was evaluated from the economic impact after the floods and the statistics highlight the significance of the effects from the natural disaster.

The impacts from flooding depend greatly on the location and the extent of the flood. It also differs significantly on the vulnerability and value of the natural and constructed environments it affects. Flash floods cause more damage than slow-rising floods because of the velocity of the flow and also the depth and duration of the flash flood. Flash flooding was an issue in the Lockyer Valley and Toowoomba regions as there were immediate impacts including property damage, crop destruction, loss of farm animals and infrastructure.

Lockyer Valley town during the 2011 floods.

Due to the destruction of infrastructure such as roads and bridges, it put all economic jobs to a halt, resulting in a disturbance of normal life for the remainder of the flooding. Correspondingly, the same outcome, in agriculture and business, lead to the loss of jobs. Even in non-flooded areas were out of business from the spill over effect from flooded companies. Everyone was affected in one way or another.

The damage to infrastructure also caused long-term effects such as water and electricity supply, communication services, transport, education and health care. From the loss of livelihood and sustained economic impacts it triggered population displacement throughout many towns. The role of the state and federal governments was to rebuild from this natural disaster. Residential home owners and business owners have completed a substantial amount of infrastructure after the flooding.

In Australia, floods are the most expensive type of natural disaster with non-stop reconstruction from 1967-2005. The cost averaged at $377 million per year to repair flood damage. The 1974 Australia floods which affected, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland resulted in a total of $2.9 billion. However, from the 2011 floods in Queensland, the damage from the infrastructure throughout the entire state, so far has costs $6 billion, but is predicted by the end of the year to have cost $10 billion.

The Queensland floods cause major disruption to 10% of businesses nationally and 25% of businesses in Queensland. Therefore, the economic activity has slowed down since the floods. In particular the coal market was greatly affected since it is a huge service market. Since the floods swamped mines in Queensland, many operations were put to a halt.

These operations produce 25% of Australia’s estimated 300 million metric ton of coal. This created havoc for the coal companies in Australia and places businesses out of action. The flooding affected the entire coal chain in the country. As a result, US coal companies were transporting coal overseas for companies in other states, since Queensland was could supply what was needed.

The Queensland farming industry is an essential network in Australia’s food chain, as it stocks 28% of Australia’s fruit and vegetables, making it one of the foremost producers in the country. Although, since the floods the industry has now reduced the amount of supply that Australia provides, since 14% of the supplies were in flood affecting areas. It has declined by 10% from 2011, with a combined loss of over $500 million.

Australian Rainfall Analysisfrom 1st November 2010 – 31st January 2011

“The excessive rainfall over December and the first half of January resulted in almost every river in Queensland south of the Tropic of Capricorn and east of Charleville and Longreach recording major flood levels at some stage during this period. Severe flooding also affected other parts of Queensland, northern and western Victoria, inland New South Wales and northern Tasmania.” (The 2011 Brisbane Floods: Causes, Impacts and Implications, Robin C. van den Honert, et al)

After any natural disaster there are always precautions when visiting that country. Thus, after the floods, there was bad news spreading across the world. Therefore, Australia struggled holding the dollar value.

The tourism industry contributes around 4 per cent of Queensland’s state product. After the floods they were suffering from the flood related disruptions as tourists were turned off by the news coverage. In conjunction with the world viewing footage of Queensland under water, tourism agents experienced a fair few cancellations due to the natural disaster. It was expected that the industry would rebound in 2011-12, which it did. Most restaurants share amazing stories and photographs as displays, as the buildings live to tell the tale.

Most businesses recorded negative impacts on their revenue in December and January. In January, operators reported the largest decrease of 53% on average for the month. In Brisbane, flood related cancellations were growing from December to January from 15% to 35%.

“The flooding will slow economic expansion and create fiscal challenges for the north-eastern Australian state,” said Debra Roane, a Moody’s VP-Senior Credit Officer. The flooding has definitely affected the state in a way that was never imaginable. However, to what extent did the severity of the economic impact have on the communities and industries after a critical natural disaster? Although the floods of 2011 were a catastrophic natural disaster, Queensland does remain a state with very strong underlying fundamentals.

As the mining resumes full output following the clean up and other including agriculture and tourism recover, and assuming the historically strong state population growth rate remains in place, Queensland will recover.

Reference List

1.Seqwater. January 2011 Flood Event: Report on the Operation of Somerset Dam and Wivenhoe Dam; Seqwater: Brisbane, QLD, Australia. 2.Interim Report, 1 August 2011; Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry: Brisbane, Australia, 2011. Available online: 3.Queensland Government Response to the Floods Commission of Inquiry Interim Report; Queensland Government: Brisbane, Australia, 2011.

Online at http://www.premiers. 4.Australian-First Deal to Relocate Grantham Residents; Lockyer Valley Regional Council: Gatton, Australia, 2011. 5.Defined Flood Level; Mullins Lawyers: Brisbane, Australia, 2011. Online at

This topic was a topic that I could relate too and reading the stories about the many disturbances with jobs and many road closures, it brought back many memories. For myself, I was a helper in the clean up after the floods. I helped my family on the farm, cleaning up the entire crop that could no longer be used. Cleaning out the house after the water went down was horrific. Being there and helping with the clean up gives you a greater understanding of what many people had to go through. My family went through a lot during the floods, as they were too late to evacuate and were isolated in their house.

Gathering research help me to understand the processes that different businesses had to undertake to overcome their traumatic experiences. It gives you a greater understanding of what other people went through to overcome their battles through this tough time.

Overall, there was a major economic impact from the Queensland’s floods in 201, which not only affected those who lost everything, but those who were affected from the down pour. Some were affected more than overs, but it doesn’t make it anymore heartbreaking. Floods are a horrible natural disaster that no one should have to experience, but at some stage in everyone’s life, they will experience hardship through crucial economic eras. We as country need to help each other.

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