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Those least able to afford insurance hit by worst of Brisbane flooding

A Brisbane resident, who experienced the 1974 floods as a child and who works, part-time, as a volunteer, reading the Courier Mail daily newspaper to the sight-impaired on Brisbanes's Radio 4RPH (Radio for the Print Handicapped) describes her experiences of the recent Brisbane flash floods, how her mother's unstilted house in the river-side suburb of Oxley was almost completely submerged and of the kindness shown to her mother by other Brisbane residents.

On Tuesday 11th Jan we heard all the flood warnings.'"worse than '74' they were saying. I was in the '74 floods as a kid, I was just 11 years old. We had come to Australia for Christmas and could not go home to Madang in PNG as the airports were closed. I recalled it vividly, especially not being able to get food for weeks.

Just before the flood in the riverside suburb of Oxley

This Tuesday 11th Jan, My mother who lives in Oxley decided to move out to dry ground. As she has a heart condition my brother urged her to just leave, and he would move what ever he could to his house which is also in Oxley but on stilts. I visited at and saw that mum had left in a great hurry, her and her dog and a few possessions. I spoke to my brother and checked he had enough food to last him a week in case he was inundated. I left and as I pulled onto Oxley Rd, the water was already lapping to the right of Cook St, so my way home was blocked already. I took an alternate route, and was stranded again and again. As I passed Rocklea Markets, the water was only a few inches under the bridge, I had just made it. Onto Annerley and could not continue as the roads were closed there near the Fairfield Rd RSPCA. Up I went and made it home to Coorparoo via back streets around Greenslopes.

Greed and panic

I went shopping and experienced the greed and panic of this type of event. The shelves were bare of bread, milk, flour, and much more. I got powdered milk and lots of tinned baked beans that were still there. I also found tinned vegetables. Mobile credit and cigarettes. Home I went and waited. The water rose and rose, and we saw constant footage as the Brisbane River became a moving missile launcher, taking everything in its path out to Moreton Bay.

Fears of being trapped in inundated inner city

Next day was Wednesday, the peak due at I had to do my shift as an announcer on radio 4RPH so I drove in using the freeway. As I passed the huge swollen river, I became worried I may get trapped in the city. I heard the evacuation sirens sounding all around the city. I continued on and my reader arrived and we did the radio show, from 9am - 12 pm. We read a lot of bulletins regarding the floods, including vital phone numbers for the SES and websites that show flood affected areas. Right on 12, we headed out the door. All buses were to stop at 1pm. No public transport would run at all. I drove home via the Story Bridge as it was still open, I made it home again.

That night

That night, at around 11pm my son and I went to the end of Oxford St, Bulimba to view the river. We saw the giant pontoon being escorted down the river by the water police. We also so much debris, including a yaght without a sailor or lights. It was like a ghost ship. Every 20 seconds something huge came down the river doing about 20 kms per hour (or 12 knots).

Every business was sandbagged, and many suburbs had no power, ready for the big peak. The peak happened at 4am. I woke up with a start and discovered the birds were singing again and the possums were about. It was as if the animals were warning us. Then the water just spread and spread, into Milton, Oxley, Jindalee, many many suburbs.

Mum's house in Oxley one of the worst affected; flood insurance hard to get and too expensive

My mother's house is in Oxley and was one of the worst. She had no flood insurance as most of us don't as it is unavailable through anyone but Suncorp[1] and is frightfully expensive. The water rose above her floor and over her windows. The water only stopped 30cm from my brothers floor boards, boy was he holding his breath. So mum has lost all her white goods, linen, knick knacks, her favourite t.v. and lots more. We have cleaned out the mud as the photos show, but there is the drying out of the house yet. Kind people have offered us a washing machine, t.v. and fridge, just like that.


"I will bring it over, when do you want it?" When the house is dry.

People are just so good here in Brisbane.


[1] Editor's note: Suncorp used to be the State Government owned insurance, but was sold off in 1996. It currently also provides home loans, as Suncorp Metway Ability Finance. One wonders if it has financed any homes in the floodpath? "At the time of the merger, SUNCORP was 100% Queensland Government owned and was operating as an allfinanz group with approximately $10 billion in assets. SUNCORP commenced business in 1916 as the State Accident Insurance Office. Not long after it changed its name to State Government Insurance Office (SGIO) and extended its operations into life insurance, general insurance and Compulsory Third Party. Over the years, superannuation, building society and finance operations were added. (Source:


When the rains are flooding down - out the back of Bourke,
And the Barcoo's rising fast, and you cannot get to work ,
You see the kangaroos and wallabies just swimming for dear life,
And you fall down on your knees,
Thank God the refugees are still alright!

And when you lose your family, and many friends are dead,
There's one thought you keep, firmly in your head,
And even though you shiver, and there is no help for you in sight,
Just thank your lucky stars, the refugees are still alright.

You must keep it firmly fixed in mind for all to see,
That you are multi cultural and just love the refugee.
So you must understand there is no proper help for you,
The government is busy on refugee work too.

So hang out on a rooftop, or swim for your bloody life ,
Thank God it's not a refugee caught in such bloody strife.
And the pain that you are bearing just bear it like a man -
Compared to a refugee, you are just an also ran.

Just don't expect your Weetbix, or even a few oats.
The tucker must be saved, for the never ending boats ,
So keep on swimming strongly, for a hundred k's or more -
And think of refugees, and not of getting sore!

Dorothea Magnolia - 2011

Thank you for you thoughtful poem, Dorothea. One thought, though: I would't agree that "the refugees are still alright". Most are clearly suffering hardship and distress. However, the fact that those, who have taken up their cause, seem to care so little for the hardships endured by native Australians -- housing unaffordability, homelessness, falling wages, joblessness and now flooding -- is a concern. Furthermore, I have never heard, from any refugee rights activist, a practical proposal that would end the plight of all the many millions refugees in refugee camps, who must want to come here and not just the relatively few who can at least afford to pay people smugglers to bring them here illegally. It seems to me that the actual effect of refugee rights activism is to provide a cover for those profiteers who have increased economic immigration to its current record levels, dwarfing the refugee intake, thereby making life harder for the poorest Australians and to divert our attention from the real fight against the terrible ongoing wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, Yemen and Somalia which have made the world refugee problem so much worse than it otherwise would be. - Editor

The 2011 flood refugees from Queensland, NSW, WA, Tasmania and now Victoria should sail to Christmas Island.

They will be escorted by Customs for express processing, given free medical treatment, clothing, dry accommodation, three meals a day.
Would they be queue jumping?

Top poem. Seems this wide brown land is not just for us, but the world's needy.

John Marlowe