According to news reports, more than 200,000 people have been forced from their homes in 31 towns primarily in the state of Queensland and its capital city Brisbane following the worst flooding in half a century. An area approximately one million square kilometers, the size of France and Germany, has been impacted. At least 26 people have died, with 53 still reported as missing.
Damage initially was estimated at around $1 billion (USD) but the estimates are increasing daily with continued flooding. The estimate of damage and lost revenue is about $13 billion.
The floods are the result of heavy rains caused by two normally unconnected weather phenomena, La Niña and prevailing easterly trade winds.
For weeks, the flooding had been a slow-motion disaster, devastating wide swaths of farmland and small towns. On Monday, 10 January, the crisis took a sudden, violent turn, with a cloudburst sending a raging torrent down the Lockyer Valley west of Brisbane. Houses were washed from their foundations and cars tossed about like bath toys in what police commissioner Bob Atkinson described as “an inland instant tsunami.”
Many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been affected, with one home in Ipswich totally “relocated” well away from its foundation. The family lost all their possessions. Another 16 homes were severely water inundated, with families losing everything.
All missionaries are accounted for and safe in the wake of severe flooding in the Brisbane area. Some missionaries have been moved from flooded areas to locations considered safe with no threat of flooding.
Australian Latter-day Saints are assisting with cleanup and will be assembling cleaning kits and other relief items.
Local Church leaders are assessing the needs of members and the community and are coordinating relief efforts with government officials. Most recovery efforts will not start until flood waters recede.
See the story at the LDS newsroom here.