Townsville’s 2019 floods – consequences in daily life

This post extends my April post, Townsville’s 2019 floods, by mentioning some consequences, both temporary and ongoing, of the flood damage.

Accelerated decisions
  • Old people flooded out of their homes may not return but find retirement accommodation, a move they may have been resisting for years.
  • All sorts of people will be replacing furniture they were already planning to replace because it was looking shabby.
Cancellations
  • Both of the main performing arts spaces, Civic Theatre and Riverway, were flood damaged and had to be closed for repairs, forcing the cancellation of events scheduled well into the middle of the year. Civic Theatre, I know, is re-opening for the Australian Festival of Chamber Music in July – but then re-closing to finish repairs.
  • Sports grounds were also flood damaged, forcing the cancellation of events up to national-festival level.
  • The Alice River bridge on Hervey’s Range Road was severely damaged and needs to be rebuilt. Rumour (which is all I have) has it that the road won’t re-open until late this year. Until it does, Hervey’s Range residents can only get into town via Black River Road and the Highway, an extra 10 Km each way.

Delayed decisions
  • Planning on selling your house or business, but it was flooded? It will probably be months before it can go on the market.
  • Need a tradie for routine maintenance? They are all still busy with flood repairs.
Green waste

Cyclones generate a huge amount of green waste at both household and municipal levels. The floods created far less of it, but still enough to be a problem. Townsville City Council always allows free dumping of green waste at its tip sites but after the floods there was an addition to the gatehouse routine: I was asked, “Is this from the floods or it is regular household green waste?”

“What difference does it make?” I wanted to know.

“Well, the city council covers the cost if it’s from your ordinary clean-up, but the state government is paying the bill for flood recovery.”

Hard rubbish

A large area of the Lou Litster Park between Ross Creek and Officeworks became a temporary green waste dump after cyclone Yasi in February 2011. The same area was fenced off after these floods as a temporary dump for hard rubbish – household goods, construction materials, etc. It was also guarded, for a time, because a lot of perfectly good things were written off by the insurance companies and then had to be dumped.

The prime example of this kind of wastage discussed by friends was the entire stock of the big green hardware store in Idalia, flooded to a depth of two metres and dumped: thousands of dollars worth of hand tools, garden furniture, paint, plumbing fittings, etc, would have been as good as new after a wash, even if power tools and light fittings had to be condemned as unsafe.

The other kind of wastage which struck me as I drove around Hermit Park and other badly affected suburbs was that so much of our furniture is appallingly badly constructed in terms of resisting water damage. Look at any furnishings catalogue and there are pages and pages of cabinets, desks, beds, etc, made of melamine over MDF (fibreboard) or chipboard. As soon as it gets wet, it expands and collapses into mush, and is totally irreparable.

And all the soft furnishings – couches and lounge chairs, “luxury” bed-heads, etc – are upholstered directly over stapled-together wooden (or, again, fibreboard) frames. Any moisture on them soaks straight in and stays there, a perfect home for mould and mildew while the staples rust and let the substructure fall apart. Again, it is totally irreparable.

What are the sustainable alternatives? Solid wood or cane construction, and removable cushions; or glass, plastic and steel.

Miscellaneous

Reef HQ aquarium had to add 26 tonnes of salt to the Coral Reef Exhibit tank to stop the fresh rain water from killing all the coral.

Landcare reckons that half the trees planted along Goondaloo Creek in recent revegetation projects were washed away and now have to be replaced. There was also significant damage to other reclamation sites – erosion, rubbish accumulation, etc – and Landcare has set up an appeal to raise funds to repair the damage.

Ross River bank
The bank of Ross River (Mundingburra side, just below Aplin’s Weir) showing new stonework repairing flood erosion

 

4 thoughts on “Townsville’s 2019 floods – consequences in daily life”

  1. 28 Jul 2019, 07:00 pm – 08:00 pm
    Townsville City Council is collaborating with the Queensland Music Festival (QMF) to bring Glen Shorrock and the Help is on its Way Project to the North Australian Festival of Arts (NAFA). The Help is on its Way Project has been developed by QMF to encourage conversation around mental health and will bring together a community choir to perform Glen Shorrock’s hit ‘Help is on its Way’. Townsville’s choir will include members of the community, Emergency Services, the Defence Force and Council staff who were involved in the response to the unprecedented monsoon.
    More: https://whatson.townsville.qld.gov.au/events/nafa/glenn-shorrock-and-the-help-is-on-its-way-project

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