Australia: 2,000 homes submerged in Townsville as floodgates open
5 February 2019
About 2,000 homes in the Australian city of Townsville were under water on Sunday, and thousands of residents have fled their homes due to catastrophic flooding.
Heavy rainfall caused the Ross River Dam to exceed its capacity by 150 percent before the dam was fully opened, unleashing a torrent of water into the Ross River, which runs through the centre of Townsville.
Rescue teams were forced to launch boats into the streets of the city in northern Queensland as rising floodwaters covered roads, cutting off access to sections of the city with a population of 170,000.
Police warned residents to remain in their homes rather than attempt to drive through flooded streets. However, there were reports on social media of people waiting many hours for assistance from the volunteer State Emergency Service, which was overwhelmed by more than 850 calls for help in a 24-hour period.
In the absence of adequately resourced emergency services, soldiers from the nearby Lavarack Barracks were sent in to aid the evacuation. The deployment of the military is now increasingly common in civil emergencies and is a part of the militarisation of every aspect of life.
More than 14,000 properties are still without power, and numerous burst pipes caused by the flood threaten to leave residents without running water.
More than 1,000 people were forced to seek emergency accommodation in the city’s overcrowded and ill-equipped evacuation centres. Workers and their families sheltering in these facilities have had to rely on donations of food, clothing, and bedding from generous members of the public.
Townsville received 1012mm (40 inches) of rain in the last week, significantly more than the previous 7-day…