Thursday, January 06, 2011

Queensland Houses Built On Flood Plains

Nature is nature and human stupidity is human stupidity ..

Queensland, Australia is under water as I write. The media extravaganza sell this flood as an abnormal, unimaginable catastrophic visitation of Noah's Flood. Rivers swollen with rain spread across dry plains, and people react as though this has happened for the first time in the entire history of the planet...

The first clue in my research was a comment about the old style historical Queensland houses built on stilts .. wait a minute! Traditional early style Queensland houses were built on stilts? Why would the early Queenslanders build their houses on stilts? Because of flooding?

I am interested in ancient archeology, especially the stilt houses of the early Celtic people in Europe. Some Celtic cultures built houses on stilts at the edge of lakes (or lochs), which may suggest that changes in water levels (floods) took place over short periods at that time. Perhaps the early Celts were used to seeing sudden changes in water levels, flooding, swelling lakes and rivers.

In a dry climate like Australia where droughts can be severe, increases in rainfall would create sensational flooding, especially across the flood plains. To meet increasing demand for housing development, the urbanization of flood plains is irresponsible. When the floods arrive, it creates social and economic problems that dwarf the short-term profits made from building across the vulnerable flood plains.

I took my research in the direction of historical Queensland stilt houses. A building style that has now been eclipsed by modern on-the-ground bungalows and houses.

Many older-style houses up on stilts are taking the current floods in their stride. This is the practical and sensible design approach of our parents and grandparents who knew there would be no one coming to save them in a "Big Wet".

Our mothers and grandmothers knew how to plan ahead, keeping a watchful eye on unseasonal wet weather from August to November (which is precisely what we have had up here) and stocking up. In those days it was powdered milk, tea, sugar, flour and preserved fruit and meat, and a stockpile on high and dry land of cut timber for the stove.

If you read this article, take some time to read the comments:
Joe - Don't stop with those areas under water at the moment. Have a look at the rapid development around Cairns and Townsville and other tropical areas over the last 20 years. Plenty of slab floored little boxes with bugger all eaves in NSW/Victorian brick veneer style being built. Many of which must be uninsurable for flood events. The houses don't need to be on 2 metre stumps - but certainly need to be elevated and not built on the floodplain.

Max - what about those QLD pollies wittering hilariously about the "Biblical" proportions of these floods?

is this to distract from the culpability of town planners who've failed to adequately ensure that property is appropriate for flood plain areas?

there's something really suspect about this whole flood thing. but we won't have local and State politicians doing anything other than trying to look good with their pious pronouncements about poor victims.
the victims were victims long before the first drop of rain fell.

"Biblical proportions floods"? "Historical floods"? Well, why does it have a name? The "big wet" .. doesn't that mean periodical big floods? Maybe the people of Queensland should begin a massive tree planting program as loss of tree coverage adds to the free flow of the water during the flooding cycle.

How much of this "disaster" was created by human stupidity?

I mean, stupidity of not paying attention to nature and living according to natures rules. If an area is prone to serious flooding cycles then is that where you build ground level housing?

Rivers flood periodically in order to replenish the richness of life all along the river. The water is feeding the land. Otherwise, without water nothing can survive. Then the land would be like the Sahara desert.

The January 2011 floods in Queensland [Fitzroy river] have not hit earlier severe flood levels as seen in 1991 (9.3 meters) and even higher in 1918 .. the Brisbane river in South Queensland rose to the highest known levels to date, while in 1893 a sequence of floods over three weeks saw the highest recorded flood levels in Brisbane. The Fitzroy river in Rockhampton rose to 9.2 and by January 4, 2011 the level of the river was 8.4 meters (still below the 1991 flood levels) .. the 1918 flood level rose 10.11 meters.

If these floods are the political/media... "biblical floods", what would the politicians and media have said in 1918? End of the world??? But we are still here! The shock has not been the flood levels; but the larger area being flooded all at once and all together. But maybe we humans should realise that planet Earth (nature) knows what she is doing. It is possible that these greater cycles of flooding, covering larger areas, do take place and it may get worse. Maybe you should ask the Native Indigenous People of Australia '.)

Natural Flooding: Floods in Australia range from localised flash flooding as a result of thunderstorms, to more widespread flooding following heavy rain over the catchment areas of river systems. Flooding is also a regular seasonal phenomenon in Northern Australia.

Australian towns were built on floodplains despite warnings from local Aborigines. Nyngan (meaning flood in its local Aboriginal language) was severely flooded on 23 April 1990.

Bernadette George, an urban planner writes: "It's a pity that over the past decade in particular, some councils and communities have chosen to ignore the numerous lessons of the past three to 50 years about where not to build.

If you must build houses here, councils should insist they be on stilts."