January 26th will mark the 50th anniversary of the Australia day weekend floods of 1974. A great deal of flooding occurred in the Ipswich Council area causing heart break and misery to many thousands of residents.
Many homes and businesses were lost, washed away, inundated by water that could not be contained.
Lives were lost and many families were uprooted by this terrible tragic event.
Not only Ipswich, but many parts of low lying areas of Brisbane were also affected.
It’s a time when those who are older will still remember those tragic few days a long time ago.
Ipswich and Brisbane had endured weeks of rain. Cyclone Wanda – a small cyclone – was posing a threat to Gladstone at the time and by 3pm rain had saturated the whole of the Bremer catchment and the South East area of Queensland.
By Saturday major flooding had occurred and the Bremer River rose at a very fast rate, reaching just over 19 mtrs.on Sunday at the town bridge. Ipswich was in trouble!
Due to the rising levels of the Brisbane River and the tide times, the Bremer River stayed at peak for nearly 39 hours, causing a huge amount of damage to homes and local businesses both in Ipswich and Brisbane. Lack of meaningful data from previous floods in the area were useless as the predictions given were exceeded within just a few hours. Unprecedented run off from the local creeks in the area contributed to the difficulties in predicting the flood levels.
On the Friday there were many shops not open in the Goodna/ Ipswich area due to the flooding. Many thought that it would soon be over, not realising what was about to happen.
Caravans were washed away at Goodna, many houses in low lying areas were under water and we saw the gradual inundation of ST. Ives shopping centre at Goodna.
Many people had stories to tell: Mine is one of them!
We had a shop in the centre; After being advised on Saturday about the continued flooding of the area, I arranged for a lift to Goodna, trying to save some stock from the water slowly filling the shop.
The next few days were a bit of a blur. I don’t know where I slept ,what I ate or how I filled in the time, just watched with others, as the water slowly devoured the shopping centre. Somehow, I also missed a birthday!
Meanwhile my wife and two small children were at home, marooned, no power or lights, cooking on an open fire with damp timber the only means of heating food with no phone or communication. Catching a boat ride with the SES back to Gailes on the Tuesday, I walked home to Camira. Its funny how some things still stick in your mind. As we passed under the overhead bridge at Goodna going home, I remembered reaching up and touching the bridge as we passed underneath, though the day to day details are very sketchy.
There were many stories. The cow on the roof of the hotel, the mud in the streets, cars skidding on the mud, cleaning up what could be saved in the shop, wonderful people who helped with their time, washing the walls etc. watching the water creep past the brick in the road. Many thoughts! Some still a little hazy.
(Even though I felt and remained calm, my wife remarked that she and others thought I was in a state of shock for some time.) Is it any wonder!
It’s funny though, The 1974 flood and the lessons learned by council and governments, helped those who went through the 2011 flood, even though it was still a terrible ordeal, there was a much improved outcome for those in need of assistance.
Even though many people helped, there was still a feeling that we were on our own back in 1974. Times certainly have changed.
(There is a report by the director of meteorology into the Brisbane and Ipswich floods, on line, detailing all aspects of the flooding event and it makes for interesting reading).