A series of floods hit Queensland, Australia, beginning in December 2010. The floods forced the evacuation of thousands of people from towns and cities. At least 70 towns and over 200,000 people were affected. Damage initially was estimated at around A$1 billion before it was raised to $2.38 billion. The estimated reduction in Australia’s GDP is about A$30 billion.
Three-quarters of the state of Queensland was declared a disaster zone. Communities along the Fitzroy and Burnett Rivers were particularly hard hit, while the Condamine, Ballone and Mary Rivers recorded substantial flooding. An unexpected flash flood caused by a thunder storm raced through Toowoomba’s central business district. Water from the same storm devastated communities in the Lockyer Valley. A few days later thousands of houses in Ipswich and Brisbane were inundated as the Brisbane River rose and Wivenhoe Dam used a considerable proportion of its flood mitigation capacity. Volunteers were quick to offer assistance and sympathy was expressed from afar. A large mobilisation of the Australian Defence Force was activated and a relief fund created. The head of the recovery taskforce was Major General Michael Slater. The Queensland Reconstruction Authority was formed to co-ordinate the rebuilding program beyond the initial taskforce and a Commission of Inquiry established to investigate all matters related to the floods.
The 2010–11 floods killed 38 people in Queensland. As of 26 January, an additional nine people were missing. The state’s coal industry was particularly hard hit. The Queensland floods were followed by the 2011 Victorian floods which saw more than fifty communities in western and central Victoria also grapple with significant flooding.