Brisbane 2011: Living with Floods and Dancing with Dugongs: Part 5- Preparing for Floods

Bill Dennison ·
6 February 2012
Queensland Floods |     1 comments

Another legacy of what happened here was the whole idea of healthy waterways, and how that relates to healthy catchments, and healthy parks. In Victoria, their whole catchphrase is healthy parks, healthy people. So they are making the connection between the health of the ecosystem, and human health. One of CSIRO's flagships is water for a healthy country.

Flood damage
Vulnerability has increased in Brisbane after the 'river renaissance'

The point I am making is that you may not see these incremental impacts when you're really close to it, but when you're looking from outside, some of the impacts are impressive. However, this renaissance, this attention to the river, and this focus on cleaning the river up increases the vulnerability. When you have an appropriately named restaurant called "The Drift", or you have these boats floating down the river in the flood, or part of the Brisbane River bikeway washed up in Redcliffe--these are things that should stay in Brisbane River. This infrastructure, that was really one of the amenities of Brisbane, has been very much compromised. Now we have to ask some hard questions about what to do.

What I have been impressed with is there were only twenty looters, and there were sixty thousand volunteers that showed up the day after to clean up (The Mud Army). Very impressive. And, the bounce back that the clean up encouraged was amazing. Lang Park, which is completely under water, was where the Maroons took the State of Origin a few months later. Once you bounce back, then you have to start planning for the next flood, because it IS going to happen. That's the one thing you can bank on. We will get another flood, and probably sooner rather than later. Remember how they're bunched up historically? You go through these decadal oscillations, so we better start planning, and doing it now, not later. We need to rebuild and develop after the flood. We maybe have to rethink - maybe this concept of Queenslanders raised up is a good idea in flood prone areas. And maybe building underneath is not a good idea. So we need to look for opportunities and creativity and innovation to rebuild so that we are better prepared for the next flood.

Flood preparation
Flooding has changed the culture of the area, and also the rebuilding and development process after the flood.

 This blog post was created from a presentation by Bill Dennison, delivered at the historic Customs House in Brisbane, Australia on 8 July, 2011 (full powerpoint presentation can be accessed on IAN Press.

About the author

Bill Dennison

Dr. Bill Dennison is a Professor of Marine Science and Vice President for Science Application at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES). Dr. Dennison’s primary mission within UMCES is to coordinate the Integration and Application Network.

Next Post > Brisbane 2011: Living with Floods and Dancing with Dugongs: Part 4- The Brisbane River Renaissance


  • kellio48 10 years ago

    A good post about an unpleasant time.
    Fortunately I was looking from afar at the time of the Brisbane floods as I was north of Mackay where peole had similar problems but for different reasons. Namely Tropical cyclone Yasi which devestated the northern regions of the state.
    However, similar efforts from both volunteers and local and state governments produces similar results in helping to clean up the mess which are still ongoing a year later.
    There was no looting to my knowledge but the enviromental impact left it's own form of stealing in that many home and business owners lost almost everything as did many of the farmers and particularly those involved in banana production.
    In these days of modern weather forcasting technology, we generally have time to make preparations for the onslaught of such natural disasters but in the light of what's been revealed over the past few weeks relating to the release of water from the Ivanhoe dam and the human error factor, how can we possibly be prepared for similar events in the future?

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