Queensland’s new flood recovery co-ordinator ‘can see the pain in people’s eyes’ as the state’s death toll rises to 13.
Maj. Gen. Jake Ellwood will lead the state’s recovery efforts after major flooding damaged more than 20,000 homes and businesses in the Southeast.
The veteran of Kosovo, Timor Leste, Iraq and Afghanistan promised to do his best to help flood-ravaged areas recover.
“Listen, this is a difficult time for the people of Queensland, and for some it follows a number of other disasters, and so my heart goes out to the community,” he said.
“You watch the news and you can see the pain in people’s eyes.”
The death toll from the floods rose to 13 on Monday after police found the body of a man in a car in the Condamine River, around 160km southwest of Brisbane.
Another man is still missing and feared dead after falling from a boat on the Brisbane River near Breakfast Creek on February 26.
The Queensland Treasury estimates that private flood insurance claims on homes and businesses will exceed NZ$1 billion and the repair of public infrastructure such as roads, bridges, power lines and footpaths. iron will cost more than NZ$536 million.
The disaster is also expected to erase 0.25%, or NZ$1.07 billion, from the state’s economic growth in the current quarter.
On Tuesday, 1,288 Defense Force troops cleared homes and businesses in Gympie, Gatton, St Lucia, Fairfield, Graceville, Rocklea, Esk, Gatton, Grantham and Goodna.
Deputy Premier Steven Miles said there were 1,778 homes with severe damage and 2,430 with moderate damage after 15,000 assessments.
He said there were 17 flood mitigation projects underway, including an upgrade to Queensland’s flood early warning system, and he expects more mitigation ideas emerge from the disaster.
The Deputy Prime Minister said buying out and demolishing homes was one option to mitigate future flooding, but it was not the only option.
“In the past we have seen small takeovers where there were no alternative options available, but they are expensive and they have obviously displaced people, and so we will consider all appropriate options, including allowing alterations to buildings, localized dikes or stormwater protection,” Miles said.
“So there is a range of options that may be most appropriate in each individual circumstance.”
Flood waste weighing more than 24 Airbus A380s has already been collected in Brisbane, where property was damaged in 190 suburbs.
Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner also said simply buying up and demolishing flood-prone homes was too expensive, not a “quick fix”.
“There were 20,000 properties, residential properties that were flooded, if you actually start calculating the value of those properties, we’re talking billions of dollars worth of properties,” Schrinner told ABC radio Tuesday.
“So if I came to you and said, ‘Listen, you live in a flood zone, go ahead, we’re going to bulldoze your house,’ I don’t know what you would think about that.”
The mayor said building homes on higher foundations and using more flood-resistant building materials were options.
However, he said it was also difficult to change planning laws to make a difference when there were already thousands of homes and businesses built in flood-prone areas.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government said it had paid 107,000 people in Queensland a total of NZ$134 million in disaster payments since February 28.