The Flood hits community and unions in South Brisbane and West End

We have been getting queries about flood affected areas in West End and South Brisbane. In short, it is 1974 all over again. Only this time there are more people living and working in these areas. Apartment buildings near the river were flooded.

Just to let people know I walked around the South Brisbane West End area this morning.

I spoke with a number of locals and the general opinion was clear – don’t build below the flood plain and don’t put high rise apartments right near the river – surprise, surprise. But is anyone in government listening? They haven’t till now.

Why not resume all the flooded land and make it into parkland- better still, put it under Murri control – they looked after it for thousands of years – much better than the johnny come lately developers, Brisbane City Council and state government.

There is a massive clean-up operation happening but both West End and South Brisbane are without power and phone landlines are cut at the moment (Friday 14th Jan 2011).

Union buildings like the CEPU, Misos and QCU are without power although QCU (TLC) was not flood affected.

Electricians need to check each building before the power can be put back on. Many traffic lights are out and police are conducting light traffic in the area. The Christian Outreach people have set up a volunteer service to help people clean up their homes.

QCU building looks like it will power back up and should be working by next Monday 17 Jan. Click here to see what the QCU website says about their closure

The Misos (LHMU QLD State Branch) building was flood affected and so there may be some problems to sort out there before it is up and running. heir website is

The lower lying areas are clothed in mud – it is slippery and hard to walk/ride along. I walked down Montague Road from West End to South Brisbane and there is mud and debris everywhere – the army and police are in the area and I even saw an army ambulance. The army were cleaning up debris near the Go Between bridge.

I took a few pictures to let you see for yourselves.

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What I take away from this is the need for the local community and workers to have more say in what goes on in their places of residence and work. For a couple of days we have seen people come together in ways that we do not usually experience. We have also seen jingoism – where people act as if people from other countries do not pull together in times of crisis. We have also seen selfishness – people going home from work on Tuesday when the flood was threatening refused people on the bus at South Brisbane bus station. One debate is ‘Did Wivenhoe do the job as promised?’ Well there are many theories, too many for this short piece. [see Damned if they do, damned if they don’t ].

Here is some further info that may be of help to flood affected people:

The Queensland Government has launched an appeal to help people affected by the recent floods. The Australian public, business community and all levels of government have given generously to this appeal, which will initially focus on helping individuals and families who are suffering from the impacts of this natural disaster.
You may be eligible for an emergency assistance payment if:
• the damaged residence was your home you lived in at the time of the flooding, regardless of whether you own or rent the property
• the damaged residence was flooded internally, above the level of the floor, in the living areas making your home uninhabitable
• you will find it hard to recover from the impact of the floods without financial assistance.
The funding is not means tested. If you meet the eligibility criteria, you may receive $2000 per adult or $1000 per dependant child.
To make a claim, download a form from or contact Centrelink by phone on 180 22 66.

Flood claim information

Ian Curr
14 jan 2011

Remains of the day … Robin Taubenfeld had the help of volunteers to break up a piano so it could be moved downstairs for collection. Photo: Nick Moir
The Wivenhoe Dam is at 190 per cent of capacity. Photo: Dean Saffron
Cleanng up in manning Street looking toward Musgrave Park
Musgrave Park from Manning and Russell streets
Volunteer Centre on the corner of Melbourne, Mollison, Browning and Boundary Streets West End
Looking down Montague near Go Betweens Bridge
Melbourne Street South Brisbane
Boundary Street West End


Wildlife Qld

5 thoughts on “The Flood hits community and unions in South Brisbane and West End

  1. Cameron Brown says:

    Been a while since I lived in the area described, now I am much closer to Grantham and Forest Hill.

    People without a sense of history will always be tempted to build on flood land, especially if they can get government permission, and sell it to some other sucker. The yet to be released developments out here were under a good 12 foot of fast moving water, the smart old money is still holding title to the hill tops, and in 7 years by local ordinances, a property flooded well over the roof top can be called flood free.

    The last floods this size were when I was born, which is to say a two fifths of a life time, a generation, 12 terms in office, or three exchanges of ruling parties.

    Being a good naive democratic citizen I never consider that planning developments might be approved on who the developer supports politically either through direct donations or jobs for the boys and girls, or any other basis than the good of the common-wealth.

    I like the idea of parks along the river, up to the 4 m mark at least, it would make it a wonderful city to be in. I don’t think it is a political reality.

  2. I recently went to Swan Hill and coming back to Melbourne I had to travel via Echuca because the Loddon hwy was flooded. There was still some water on the road, flooded paddocks and farmhouses with water up to their doorstep. In Echuca the Campaspe river flooded south Echuca and the houses next to the river in south Echuca were flooded about a foot up. the river walk in Echuca was covered in water in most places so you couldn’t walk it. The murray river where the historic port is rose halfway up the archways advertising the historic cruises so they moved gangways and the ships. All weekend people and myself walked up and down the campaspe river watching the water rise. I hope it doesn’t flood in Swan Hill where my mother is. Andrea.

  3. jim sharp says:

    ian here’s a poem inspired by the workers practical response & the…
    varsity snobs

    know it alls’

    look down on the

    talking beasts of burden

    knowing we ain’t like them

    our hands are soo callused

    for gawds sake we canna read

    or spell so how cud we perceive

    & form abstract conceptions

    Like those varsity snobby grads

    but when the floods came

    aware of our power as one

    we united & cleaned–up the shit

    meantimes they theorize about

    what if-eries & about-eries

    while the ruling boozh-wah-zie ‘pack it!’

    mindful of our potential class-power

  4. Dan O'Neill says:

    The February Meeting of the 17 Group will be on the subject of (what else?) “The Great 2011 Flood”, all aspects of it, causes, consequences, and responses. As usual (only the garage was flooded) it will be in unit 6 at 20 Drury St, West End at 7pm.
    The speakers will be those of you who decide to turn up, victims, helpers, observers, whoever was interested.

    Themes to be discussed could include whether human-made factors in climate change were involved, or whether it is principally down to a long-term weather pattern, did complacency about the role of the Wivenhoe Dam play a role, how about the pressure of capitalist developers, can much be done about preventing such events in the future or do we have to admit that it’s a bit stupid to have a capital city on a flood plain, what did the overwhelmingly generous response of so many volunteers mean — that necessity inspires community or that a really exceptional disaster breaks the carapace of individualistic competitiveness encouraged and indeed required by the capitalist system,so as to give people access to those co-operative impulses that allow a glimpse of a differntly organised system?

    Leon’s only comment was “Weather, you want weather? Try exile in Siberia!” He could have been here for this one , taking a hard line, but unfortunately for us and fortunately for them, he’s down volunteering in Victoria at the moment. But let your volunteering take the form of contributing to the discussion.

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