2011. 1. 13. 14:05

Last updated: January 13, 2011     
(Weather: Brisbane 21°C - 28°C)

Flood levels are dropping in Brisbane,

but a second peak is expected at 4pm

FLOOD levels are dropping in Brisbane, although a second peak slightly lower than experienced early this morning is expected on the high tide this afternoon about 4pm.

Weather Bureau hydrologist Peter Baddiley says water has already dropped .3m and flows are easing.

Mr Baddiley said Wivenhoe Dam helped reduce major flows at critical times, easing damage downstream.

By holding back flows, it had reduced what potentially was a flood greater than that experienced in 1974.

``There will be a noticeable fall in river levels at break of day tomorrow,'' he said.

Mr Baddiley said that at 11.30am today upstream reaches at Ipswich, Jindalee and Moggill had fallen by substantial but variable margins.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Brett Harrison said: "We still expect it to be above major flood levels until sometime during Friday and remain high over the weekend." 

Lord Mayor Campbell Newman said there was a lot of water in the CBD, but the lower than expected peak had saved many businesses and high-rise apartment buildings.

He said revised figures, based on a 4.6 metre peak, suggested 11,900 properties would be fully flooded "with water across the whole property footprint", and 14,700 partially affected.

At that level 2500 businesses would be fully affected, and another 2500 partially affected, Mr Newman said.

"We all now have to rally together to help these people clean up, the ones that have suffered impacts," he told the ABC.

He said drinking water supplies in the Brisbane City Council local government area were safe and secure.

Overnight the Bureau of Meteorology  revised down the expected peak three times, from the original estimate of 5.5m. It was revised to 5.2m, then less than 5m, before the latest estimate of 4.6m at 4am.

It was expected to remain at 4.6m for four to five hours, before falling slightly and then rising again in the afternoon, but not exceeding 4.6m.

The rise and fall

This is below the 1974 flood peak of 5.45m as releases at Wivenhoe Dam were reduced quickly during Tuesday night, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

In comparison, the 1841 flood reached a peak of 8.43m and the 1893 flood 8.35m.

However while this latest flood is technically at a lower level than in 1974, its impact will be felt harder in today's more highly developed, densely populated city.

About 4.45am water was almost knee-deep at the intersection of Charlotte and Albert streets in the inner city, with water coming up through drains and swamping basements.

City SES and electrical workers were at the ready.

Police are requesting that all Brisbane residents to avoid travel to the CBD unless absolutely necessary and stay away from the river as sightseers can cause more trouble for emergency service workers.

Water has broken through into the historic Breakfast Creek Hotel.

The entire hotel is inundated with water, which began to flow through into the hotel at about 12.45am.

Kingsford Smith Drive has not yet flooded, but the river is just centimetres from reaching up to the edge of the road.

Several onlookers remained at the river's edge waiting for the high tide at 4am.

In a rare piece of good news, Archerfield Airport has escaped flooding by 30cm.

Authorities overnight were worried the river would breach a bank and flood the airport's electrics, which would have cost millions to repair.

They await further rises in the Brisbane river, saying they were not out of the woods yet.

The airport remains closed.

 On Wednesday, Brisbane's central business district dodged a major flood bullet but there were still plenty of problems.

It had been expected the 3pm high tide, combined with the mass of water in the river, would cause major flooding in the CBD but the situation was helped by no rain falling in the city all day.

Lord Mayor Campbell Newman, while welcoming the relative lack of damage on Wednesday, warned that the worst of the flooding was still ahead of the city.

``I'm feeling a sense of history. I am feeling a sense of horror and awe about the power of the river and I am just constantly thinking about the people whose livelihoods are going down that river in front of our eyes,” Cr Newman said

``At the moment we are seeing pontoons and people's boats...sadly in coming hours we might be seeing bits of people's houses...and that breaks my heart.''

On Wednesday thousands of people ignored pleas from police to stay out of the CBD as they gathered at vantage points to watch the rampaging Brisbane River.

Public transport problems and cut roads meant they arrived on foot, bicycles, skateboards, and even scooters.

At every vantage point, sightseers were taking photographs.

There was flooding in the lower southern end of the CBD at Alice St, Mary St, Creek St, Eagle St and Margaret St, but not to the depth that had been predicted.

The walkway at the Eagle Street Pier and Waterfront Place was underwater in most parts, but the river did not reach the high levels.

Police patrolled the area keeping sightseers behind lines.

Across the river in South Brisbane, coffee shops and businesses in Boundary and Melbourne Streets sandbagged desperately as floodwaters spread more than 1km into the suburb.

Businesses and industrial workshops in access streets to the river were inundated.

Worst affected as the flood neared its predicted afternoon peak were in Kurilpa, Victoria, Beesley and Jane Streets - and further downstream access to the Go Between Bridge was cut off when Montague Road become flooded.

Floodwater entered houses and units in riverside streets at West End from early morning.

Police went door to door advising residents.

South Brisbane and West End resembled suburbs under siege, as police set up roadblocks to turn back sightseers.

Popular Orleigh Park at West End and the Davies Park rugby league ground at South Brisbane disappeared as floodwaters rose.

The river lapped at the floor of the historic South Brisbane Sailing Club, and inundated the nearby Brisbane & GPS Rowing Club boatshed and a cluster of school and club boatsheds near Davies Park.

The large Brisbane City Council pontoon used by kayakers at Orleigh Park broke away from its moorings and was swept down the river about 1pm.

More than 100,000 people in the southeast are without power as Energex continues to disconnect suburbs inundated by floodwaters.

Around 115,000 people state-wide are without power, including 60,000 customers in the CBD.

Cr Newman said there had been ``a number of furphies and rumours going around'' about the safety of the city's drinking water, but said there was no problem with the water supply.

``There is capacity in the hilltop reservoirs around the city of Brisbane for two to three days should the power go out,'' Cr Newman said. ``I want to stress that we would like people in case of power outages to be careful with the use of water.

``Please don't go and fill up the bath. Just be very prudent in the way you use water.''

- Mark Oberhardt, Peter Howard, Rikki-Lee Arnold and Sophie Elsworth



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