So much for Brisbane's usual ability to sidestep disaster. So far 100,000 houses in the area are without power (since water + electricity=bad news, hence the power company has shut off whole suburbs.) Numerous, entire suburbs have been evacuated, including the CBD (central business district, or downtown in North America speak) Some business people have been relocated to Sydney to do their jobs, since the downtown core is a ghost town. The peak is expected at 4 am this morning, and a second peak at 4pm tomorrow afternoon. The emergency services, Red Cross, Salvation Army, and the actual Australian Army have been working around the clock getting people to safety. We have seen video footage of people being picked up off of roofs, out of trees. Some are not so lucky, and there are 12 confirmed dead with dozens missing. This is really only the crisis phase of the disaster, and there are predictions of dysentery, Dengue, Ross River Fever and others as well as strain on the Mental Health services in coping with the aftermath. Public Health nerds are in the limelight at last.
UQ has areas under water, and the second year med students have had classes cancelled until further notice. I will be starting on my clinical rotations, so I am not expected to commute to campus anymore, but rather the hospital I have been assigned to. Starting Jan 24, that will be the Prince Charles Hospital for mental health for 8 weeks. This is about 1 km walk, so I am very fortunate.
In a way it is very surreal, since we live in a suburb entirely unaffected by the floodwaters, and unlikely to be. The worst inconveniences we can expect is no trash collection until further notice, no public transport (due to so many roads cut off), and empty grocery stores. (see Rob's photos). We essentially have not changed our routine much. This makes me feel extremely relieved (I lived in a flood prone area last year), and a bit guilty for our protected status. We have put our home on offer for anyone who needs higher ground to go to.
In the meantime, if you think of us, please feel free to donate to:
the Red Cross (link is in a previous post)
the Premier's Relief Fund to help rebuild homes and businesses (http://www.qld.gov.au/floods/donate.html)
or UQ's rural health club TROHPIQ (Towards Rural and Outback Health Professions in QLD), which is raising funds to resupply our rural clinical schools with training equipment and books which have been lost. ( www.trohpiq.org)
We are grateful for your thoughts and prayers. We have heard most of the prairies is enduring a tough, snowy and frigid time. You are in our thoughts as well