An estimated 700 people have already been evacuated after blaze took hold on parched countryside A huge bushfire that has been raging in the parched New Zealand countryside for four days has forced hundreds of residents to be evacuated from their homes and prompted fears that climate change has caused the nation to become “more flammable”. Firefighters have been working for most of the week to put out fires covering more than 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres) around Nelson on the northern tip of the South Island of New Zealand.
People are prepared for earthquakes and tsunamis and volcanic activity, but I don’t think most people would have thought about fire
Premier distances herself from decision to open Ross River dam floodgates, which sent water into Townsville suburbs The Queensland government has announced an inquiry into the historic flooding in Townsville, as evidence mounts that local authorities failed to anticipate the extreme nature of the recent record rainfall. The independent inquiry will look into “key preparedness and response elements” to the storms that dumped more than one metre of rain on Townsville in less than a week.
“You should direct that question to the Townsville City Council” deflects responsibility for the controversial decision to delay opening the Townsville dam during the flood disaster.
Annapolis is seeing seas rise at about twice the global rate, and flooding there foreshadows the problems other coastal communities can expect When the parking lot in the bustling tourist zone of downtown Annapolis floods, the employees at Pip’s Dock Street Dogs restaurant take off their socks and shoes, wrap their legs in trash bags and wade out into the water. A lot of the time, it’s not even raining. High tides intensified by sea-level rise are just pushing the water inland, overwhelming the drainage system.
Homes destroyed in mudslide as residents flee areas hit by last year’s wildfires, as system moves across US west Waves of heavy rain pounded California on Thursday, flooding streets, triggering a mudslide that destroyed homes and forcing residents to flee communities scorched by wildfires last year.
Survivors of the Kinglake bushfire of 7 February 2009, which took 120 lives, talk about their struggle to move on “Half the town is on medication, and the other half should be.” That’s bushfire survivor Anne Dixon’s dark-humoured attempt to describe how people from the mountaintop hamlets around Kinglake are coping 10 years on from Black Saturday. Burnt trees are seen among the regrowth on the ridge surrounding Kinglake. Anne Dixon’s home – before the fires and after. Volunteers Christine Exton and Cheryl Chalmers read up on Black Saturday bushfire information at the Kinglake Historical society museum. Clockwise from top: Survivors Odette Bellamy and son Thomas Borg in the backyard of her home in Kinglake West, which was previously destroyed by the 2009 fires; this statue was all that remained after the Black Saturday bushfire tore through Odette Bellamy’s property. Kinglake West CFA volunteers Peter Sharman and Jason Caine wash the trucks as part of the weekly routine during fire season. Clockwise from top: Deb Morrow in the regrowth surrounding her home in Kinglake West; a burnt log and wire were all that remained of this power line. Left to right: The Kinglake West fire bell, which is rung on 7 February in memory of those who died; Deb Morrow holds an image of her home.
Recent wildfires scorched 90% of the federally protected Santa Monica Mountains – destroying a 1950s Hollywood set and affecting biodiversity. But life is slowly coming back The fire came quickly. Fueled by dry, blustering winds, officials were unable to contain before it scorched the canyons of Ventura and Los Angeles counties, taking close to 97,000 acres and 1,500 properties with it. One of was the Santa Monica Mountains national recreation area. Nearly 90% of the federally owned land burned in the November 2018 blaze. The park is home to popular hiking trails, a rich ecosystem of plant and wildlife, including mountain lions and coyotes, as well as famous spots such as the Paramount Ranch’s “Western Town” (a well-known Hollywood set location), the historic 1927 Peter Strauss Ranch house, a and ranger residences. Nearly all of them burned to the ground.
Decisions were based on the risk of a ‘one-in-100-year’ flood, but the downpour was much more severe Like most doctors, Michael Clements says he’s “risk-averse”. When he established his medical practice in the Townsville suburb of Idalia, he checked the area’s flood history. He hired surveyors and spoke to the council. There was, they all said, little to worry about.
Local officials, at risk of losing Fema funding, decreed that residents may not live on property that hasn’t been cleared of debris Survivors of a wildfire that obliterated an entire California town have been told they cannot continue to camp on their burnt-out lots and must leave. Officials in Paradise, which was swept by a blaze that killed at least 86 in November, passed an ordinance on Monday that will make it illegal for residents to live on property that hasn’t been cleared of burned debris. Crews began cleaning up the remnants of more than 14,000 destroyed homes last week, and the process could take at least a year.
Many Palm Islanders staying in Townsville aren’t eligible for support payments despite being evacuated For the past six weeks, Sophia Barry has been staying with relatives while she tried to find a home in Townsville. By Wednesday, after the city’s poorest neighbourhoods were flooded and her brother’s home evacuated, she had no choice but to return to Palm Island. Local outreach groups estimate more than 1,000 Indigenous people from Palm Island, a community some 60kms away, live in Townsville or are staying for extended periods, almost as many as live permanently on the island.
Strain data shows a magnitude 5.8 quake in summer 2016 – but nobody felt it, scientists say It was a magnitude 5.8 earthquake, but nobody felt it. That’s because this quake took about 50 days to shake itself out. Occurring a few kilometres south of Istanbul, this “slow earthquake”, which took place during summer 2016, could be a sign that the dangerous is reawakening. Geologists know that strain is travelling from east to west across Turkey (caused by Asia ploughing into Europe). Large earthquakes have sequentially released strain along the east-west trending North Anatolian fault, with the most recent being the devastating magnitude 7.6 , which killed more than 17,000 people. Istanbul and the surrounding area are next in line, posing a severe threat to the 15 million inhabitants.
Almost overnight we have transitioned from drought to a flood disaster zone. There are kangaroos dead in trees, birds drowned in drifts of silt and our beloved bovine family perished in huddled piles After what can only be described as an environmental massacre of mammoth proportions throughout the whole of north-west Queensland, the people of this country are heartbroken. We live on a family cattle station 60km north of Cloncurry, where we have just received 700mm-plus of rain over seven days, with the majority of that falling over four days. This extreme weather event, , has decimated much of our native wildlife, along with our domestic livestock. They were constantly exposed to wind and cold driving rain for far too long. The majority of the country was either covered in flood water or churned into a bog, making their feed inaccessible.
Up to 10 others in intensive care after exposure to melioidosis during clean-up Receding flood waters after Queensland’s once-in-a-century monsoonal deluge have left people exposed to a disease that has already killed one person in Townsville. Up to 10 more people have been infected by melioidosis, a soil-borne bacteria which has been stirred up by heavily contaminated flood waters.
The next 15 megacities #14: Surat’s battle to hold back water has raged since its first flood wall in 1664. As its population soars, India’s ‘diamond city’ needs new solutions Look up as you walk around Surat and you might spot “HFL 8.8.2006” daubed in red paint on a wall above your head. HFL stands for “high flood level”, and the inscriptions are 15 feet above the ground in places – a fading memory of the , which killed 150 people, according to official estimates (unofficial counts put the death toll at over 500). More than 60% of the city was underwater and damage was estimated at $2bn. Surat’s geography – it lies at the mouth of the Tapi river, near the Arabian Sea – makes it prone to flooding, and it experiences a major inundation every four years on average. By 2035 another 15 cities will have populations above 10 million, according to the , taking the total number of megacities to 48.
Harry and Sue Landman have to steady themselves as they return to their home in Idalia After a week of heavy rain, the knock on the door came with no warning. Just after 5pm on Sunday, Harry and Sue Landman were told to leave their home on Sanctuary Drive. The couple, aged 80 and 77, have lived in the Townsville suburb of Idalia for nine years. The houses on the opposite side of the street back on to the Ross River but have never been affected by flooding.
All our files and everything are gone. But what can you do?
Bodies are believed to be the men, aged 21 and 23, reported missing yesterday. Follow all the developments
Thanks for following along with us again today. We’ll be closing the blog shortly, but, before that, let’s just recap the day’s events in Townsville. The main story from today is the sad news that in the floods. Earlier, police said they held grave fears for two men who were last seen on Monday morning. We will learn more about the circumstances in the hours and days to come.
The Insurance Council of Australia has revised its current estimate of insurance losses up – it now sits at $45m from 3,500 claims. The council expects that figure to rise as people return to their homes. This has been occurring gradually throughout the day, although authorities say many homes are still unsafe.
The RACQ Bank says it has suspended home loan repayments for three months for those impacted by the Townsville floods. “We’ve initiated a three-month moratorium on home loan repayments for Townsville flood victims because we get it – when times are tough, paying off your home loan is the least of your worries,” the bank’s chief executive, Michelle Bagnall, said.
This is the Haughton River running back into .
Slowly, the dam levels are dropping. It was at nearly 250% above capacity on Monday afternoon.
Ross River Dam is currently at 197.5% capacity (460,649 Megalitres). Latest reading at 2:00pm on the 5th of February.
Climate change is known to increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather and the role of longer term climate trends will be assessed at a later date, said the senior meteorologist Grace Legge. “Normally if we see this sort of intense rainfall we don’t see it for such a long period,” Legge said.
In a 10-day period, Townsville has received more than its annual average rainfall and broken records for its longest running period of days above 50mm of rain. The Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, has described the floods as “unprecedented”, but what is behind the weather that has dumped more than two metres of rain in some areas?
Our environment reporter, Lisa Cox, has just filed some analysis on the weather situation in Townsville. I am going to post it in two parts for ease of reading.
The premier said earlier that the education department would today assess which public schools could reopen. In the Catholic sector, all but one will be open tomorrow.
All Townsville Diocesan schools will be OPEN tomorrow (Wednesday, 6 February 2019) expect for St Margaret Mary's College. Information about kindergartens, outside school hours care and St Mary MacKillop Early Learning Centres to follow soon.
Never leave a kangaroo behind.
2 RAR soldiers demonstrate humility and affection by rescuing our national native symbol. A 'Skippy' soldier rescuing 'Skippy'. Well done to the men and women of the battalion. Great work#yourADF!
We learned earlier today that the Bruce Highway had reopened. That is crucial news given the food shortages that had arisen. However there are still major road closures elsewhere, as this statement from the Queensland roads minister, Mark Bailey, points out. “The Finders Highway is expected to be cut for some days with the Macrossan Bridge over the Burdekin River under water,” he said. “We have also recorded multiple landslips on Hervey Range Road, between Townsville and Charters Towers, as well as a major landslip on Paluma Range.
Luke Henriques-Gomes here taking over again. Thanks to Michael for taking the keys just now.
Spare a moment today for the hundreds of ADF, SES, QFES and Police who've been working around the clock to keep the people of Townsville safe during the floods. We couldn't have done it without these true Queenslanders.
A bit more on the discovery of the bodies of two men in their 20s while we wait for official word from police. It’s understood the two bodies were discovered in a stormwater drain in Aitkenvale, a suburb in Townsville.
Sad news. Local media are reporting the bodies of two men have been discovered in Townsville. It’s believed they are the same two men reported missing yesterday. On Monday police said two men aged 21 and 23 were missing after they were last seen in Ross River Road in Aitkenvale near flood waters.
What was that thing emergency services are always warning people not to do in flood waters?
It’s a pretty amazing story how emergency services rescued 2 policeman from the floodwaters. Full story on
Just a quick note to let you all know that I’ll be taking the keys from Luke for the next little while. How about this rain, eh?
Drone vision of the Burdekin River in flood over Macrossan Bridge, west of —taken by Charters Towers Regional Council. There are numerous warnings in effect around the region: Stay up to date .
In what must be incredibly frustrating news for many locals, authorities in Townsville say it is still too dangerous for people to return to flooded homes. That’s despite the fact that water levels are receding. A statement from the Townsville Local Disaster Management Group warns that flooded areas are “still an active emergency zone with flooded waters hiding potentially fast-flowing water, debris and sewage”. And if the rain returns, the water may rise rapidly.
The Ross River dam is slowly subsiding. It has just dropped below 200% capacity. Small steps.
Ross River Dam is currently at 199.9% capacity (466,034 Megalitres). Latest reading at 11:00am on the 5th of February.
Yesterday the premier estimated that the damage bill in Townsville would be in the hundreds of millions. Here’s $2m of that – according to a local hockey club.
Townsville Hockey estimates the floods have caused $2m damage to their facilities. has the latest on Townsville's sporting grounds in at 6pm.
Good news from Townsville airport.
We're pleased to announce services are almost back to normal in the terminal, with most flights operating to schedule. Check with airlines and our website for updated flight times. All food, beverage and retail stores, car parking, car hire, taxi and shuttle services are open.
The prime minister was sporting a camouflage jacket as he visited flooded areas of Townsville alongside the army.
Extra police have touched down in Townsville with more on the way today to help residents affected by the and keep the community safe.
Just on the prime minister’s earlier no comment on climate change. My colleague, Ben Smee, noted these comments from Bill Shorten yesterday. Bill Shorten has just made some fairly strong statements linking extreme weather – the flooding in and fires in Tasmania – to climate change. The Labor leader says from Huonville in Tasmania that “even Australia’s most extreme climate deniers” would have to accept that extreme weather events are becoming more common and that “climate change is having some effect”.
A reporter at the press conference notes there have been a “record number of weather events, cyclones”. “What’s your thinking on climate change?” the reporter asks Morrison. The prime minister replies that he’s not focused on “politics” today. My thinking is the support for people. I’m not engaging in broader policy debates today. I’m engaging in the needs of people here on the ground, people in evacuation centres, with some trepidation going back into their homes and finding what they’re going to find. That’s what I’m focused on today, not politics.
Morrison says that the commonwealth will provide Category C disaster assistance following a request from the premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk. : Category C assistance is only made available when the impact of a disaster is severe. It is intended to be in addition to assistance under Categories A and B and is usually considered once the impacts of the disaster on affected communities have been assessed. Category C assistance is requested from the states and requires agreement from the prime minister.
The premier’s press conference has wrapped up – and Scott Morrison’s has begun. Morrison has been visiting homes as some locals return to survey the wreckage. The Nationals MP George Christensen and Liberal senators Linda Reynolds and Ian Macdonald are also there. The prime minister says the “care and compassion” people are showing to each other has been a “privilege” to witness.
The Queensland police deputy commissioner, Bob Gee, has reiterated the premier’s call for “patience”. “It is not safe to go back to homes, it is not safe to go into those flood waters,” Gee says.
Richard Wardle, the acting state manager for Queensland for the Bureau of Meteorology, says the monsoon is expected to “remain active for the coming days, potentially easing over the weekend”. “So there is an end in sight,” he says. “But we are expecting further periods of heavy rainfall, some of it very heavy, about the north-east tropics for the next few days, between about Cardwell and Mackay, and with that there is the real elevated risk of flash flooding.”
The premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, is addressing the media now. A few early points:
Good news from out on the roads. Highway closures had been contributing to food shortages at supermarkets along the north Queensland coast.
At 10:30am, the Haughton River Bridge was reopened to traffic.This means the Bruce Highway between and is now open to all traffic. A big thank you to motorists for your patience while we completed assessments on the bridge to ensure its safety.
Bruce Highway between Ayr and Townsville just reopened. Some people we spoke to had been sleeping in their cars since Wednesday waiting for that. Now they’ll get home to assess damage
As I mentioned earlier, the prime minister is in Townsville. Scott Morrison will be holding a press conference in the suburb of Cranbrook at 11.15am local time, so in about 50 minutes’ time.
Queensland’s premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, has described the floods as unprecedented. The cause of the prolonged rainfall is a monsoonal trough that has been sitting over the Townsville area. While monsoonal rainfall occurs throughout summer in northern Queensland, the difference this time is the trough isn’t moving.
⚠️If you live in Burdekin, Cook, Douglas, Townsville or Wujal Wujal & have been affected by the you may be eligible for the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment or Disaster Recovery Allowance. Call 180 22 66 to claim or visit
Drone vision of the Burdekin River in flood over Macrossan Bridge, west of —taken by Charters Towers Regional Council. There are numerous warnings in effect around the region: Stay up to date .
Townsville is still technically in the rescue and evacuation phase. Among the thousands who have been evacuating is Brady Ellis, a radio host in Townsville. The video below shows his family leaving their waterlogged home, but the star of the show his is dog, Axl. About half way through, you can see him surfing through the water with the help of the army.
One of the things you might have been wondering if you’ve been following the floods crisis is how Townsville’s main catchment, the Ross River dam, has been at more than twice its capacity. On Monday, for example, it peaked at 244.8%. In fact, , the capacity level refers to the approved level for drinking or irrigation. And, in simple terms, owing to the flat slopes of the reservoir, the capacity level can increase without the water level rising too much.
And here’s a zoomed-out look at the rainfall in Queensland over the past seven days. As has been mentioned, Townsville has received about a year’s worth of rain in a week. Those red dots west of the coast, however, are a godsend for farmers in drought-stricken areas of the state.
Where has the rain fallen this week across inland ? Not much for the Darling unfortunately, but plenty for parched catchments in the Gulf and upper Lake Eyre basin across . A dramatic shift after weeks of 40+ ! Thanks to for the graphic.
This map from the Bureau of Meteorology shows rainfall totals overnight.
Very heavy rainfall was recorded north of Townsville overnight. Another major peak in Bluewater Creek but thankfully the missed the worst. The focus today shifts southwards to the . See for more details
Rainfall ☔ figures overnight in the 24 hours to 9am tell a grim story with 300-400mm in the Ross River catchment and 150-250mm around . Another rain band is approaching from the northwest now and visible on radar:
People affected by the have been displaced from their homes and have lost essential belongings. Please consider donating to assist with the recovery process. Thank you for your during this very difficult time.
Here’s a look at the front page of Townsville’s main newspaper, the Bulletin.
Front page wrap of tomorrow’s ..yes we are surrounded by water but we are surrounded by floody legends too! down but not out ☔️
The prime minister, Scott Morrison, is in Townsville.
PM in Townsville on his way to the army base
Earlier, I mentioned that there were fears for two missing men. They are Hughie Morton, 21, and Troy Mathieson, 23. They were last seen on Monday morning near flood waters in the Townsville suburb of Aitkenvale.
Missing: Police searching floodwaters around Aitkenvale for Hughie Morton, 21 and Troy Mathieson, 23. They were last seen on Ross River Road early this morning. @
This morning there was significant rainfall – about 200mm in two hours – at Bluewater, just north of Townsville. There are concerns about flash flooding there, with an emergency warning in place. In Townsville itself conditions have eased – the city only copped about 37mm of rain over the past 24 hours. That’s good news, but the city’s Ross River dam is still at double its intended capacity.
Ross River Dam is currently at 202.9% capacity (473,214 Megalitres). Latest reading at 7:00am on the 5th of February.
Hello and thanks for joining day two of our live coverage of the floods. My name is Luke Henriques-Gomes. First, the bad news. Two men are feared missing as an area just north Townsville was hit by another deluge of monsoonal rain overnight. Rain is also forecast for central Townsville today. Authorities had warned on Monday that the crisis was far from over – it appears they were right.
Men, both in their early 20s, discovered in stormwater drain near Aitkenvale library The bodies of two men have been found in flood waters at Townsville in north Queensland. The two men, both in their early 20s, were discovered in a stormwater drain near the Aitkenvale library on Tuesday afternoon.
For graziers who sweated to keep their herds alive, praying for rain, the scale of the flood is hard to take Out the back of Mount Isa, in late January, the locals marked a wry milestone. For an unbroken stretch of 43 stinking afternoons, the temperature at Cloncurry and Camooweal had topped 40C. The herds of cattle in Queensland’s north-west, the ones that had survived through six years of drought, started to show signs of severe heat stress. They became thinner, weaker.
There’s grown tough men I know who have been reduced to tears. And I’m one of them.