Worst yet to come Greeks in Brisbane evacuate flood struck West End

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram Greek residents in Brisbane’s West End area, have been forced to evacuate or are preparing to evacuate their homes as flashflooding worsens in the Queensland region. All of the streets that line the river in West End have been evacuated while the riverside of West End is underwater, honourary secretary of the Greek Orthodox Community of St George, Brisbane, Michael Anastas told Neos Kosmos today. “West End is a central Greek population, there’s probably a few thousand Greeks living in that area,” Mr Anastas said. “The main business district, where we are based, is further back, a few hundred metres from the river, so we’re okay for now and don’t expect to be flooded,” he added. The Greek Community has already received a number of calls from their community members asking for assistance and food, Mr Anastas said. “Food supplies are depleting fairly quickly. As far as we know, out of the supermarkets that can be accessed there’s a dwindling supply of food,” he said. The Greek Community of St George is currently determining whether or not its premises can be useful for other evacuations in the area. The community’s Southside nursing home services are shut because they could not supply food to clients and because employees have been told to stay home and not risk travelling to and from work. “We’ve relocated those people and relocated people in need to other nursing homes,” Mr Anastas said. “The nursing home itself is not affected,” he said, adding “we run a number of centres and offsite nursing services and we’ve contacted all those patients and people who live at home to make sure they’re okay. Some elderly people have had to be evacuated”. The church has a register of community members who have offered to billet others in their homes whilst the community is currently running on a skeleton staff, as people have been advised not to travel, Mr Anastas said. Describing the scene, Mr Anastas said Queenslanders are currently experiencing the calm before the storm. “It’s very eerie, there’s sunshine at the moment, but we’re expecting more rain coming this afternoon,” he said. Pontoons have torn away from the shore and unpiloted boats are drifting down the river, while one boat has crashed into Victoria bridge, Mr Anastas said. NUGAS president, Lex Georgiou, who is from Brisbane but currently lives in Sydney, said her parents are among those forced to evacuate their riverside home in West End. “Where we live in West End is predominantly a Greek area. The river bank broke yesterday, our house is quite high up along the river so while other houses had started to be affected the water hadn’t reached our house yet,” Ms Georgiou told Neos Kosmos. “I was on the phone with my family all day yesterday as they were starting to pack up our house. I had ten friends go over and pack up my room yesterday afternoon and since then water has risen to about two metres and has come into the house,” she said. With furniture all packed into the highest levels of the family’s 200 year old colonial style mansion, which survived the 1974 floods, Ms Georgiou said her parents cannot leave by car and must wait for boats to pick them up. “This story is very typical of what’s going on in West End at the moment,” Ms Georgiou said. “My parents are trying not to worry, they’re just trying to get everything done”. The King Tide came in today and the river is expected to peak tomorrow, Ms Georgiou said. “The thing that concerns me is that a restaurant on the waterfront, just round the corner from our house, has sunk. Our neighbours’ jetties have become detached and are just floating; it’s going to be a very dangerous situation”. “We just don’t know how bad the damage is going to be to the house, but at the moment the amount of volunteers and people coming forward to help has been amazing,” Ms Georgiou said. Electricity has been switched off in the area and residents have been told to conserve water usage, she added. The parish priest Father Dimitri told Neos Kosmos the worst is expected to hit the sunshine state tomorrow. “We’ve seen better days,” he said, adding “a lot of the suburbs closer to the river have already flooded or are expecting to”. Father Dimitri said the most difficult part is predicting the areas that will be hit. “The city councils have flood models and are trying to predict where it’s going to happen but the rush of water is so great and the releases from the dams, which are now mandatory, are making it very difficult to predict where the floods will strike,” he said. Following the 1974 floods the Queensland government created the Wivenhoe dam to try and mitigate the flooding, Father Dimitri said. “We’re hitting the same levels now as in 1974 with the dam in place. If that dam wasn’t hit half of Brisbane would be under water already,” he said. “The magnitude of the water that’s coming down is twice the water of Sydney harbour on a daily basis”. The Wivenhoe dam, which was let out in recent days is at 200 percent capacity. “The city is at the burden of any further rain, the dam can’t mitigate the water; it’s a very unstable and unpredictable kind of event,” Father Dimitri said. “We’ve had a lot of Greeks evacuating and a lot preparing to; I’m constantly keeping an eye on streets that are flooding,” he said. The church has prepared their respite centre as emergency accommodation. “Family support is very good, there’s been some elderly people that have been taken in; we can’t do anything else” Father Dimitri said. “You have to get people high, dry and safe and really the devastation will be after it’s over”. It is estimated that 40,000 residential and business properties will be affected in the next 24 to 48 hours.last_img read more