Here’s a sample of the coverage of the Queensland flood (there’s an extraordinary shot at 3:30 that shows how fast the water was rising):

The damage has hardly begun to be documented.  (Jarrett  Walker is keeping track of the impacts on transit infrastructure.)  For me, having visited the city several times (and illustrated its passerelles here), I’m shocked and saddened to see the devastation and loss of life. 

While not the most consequential loss, the destruction of the Riverwalk was painful to see.  This floating walkway below the cliffs of New Farm on the Brisbane River connected the inner western suburbs and the CBD.  It was expensive, beautifully constructed (the railings are of stainless steel) and a critical part of the pedestrian and bikeway network . 

Riverwalk is the white line at the centre right of this aerial by Michael Geller:

Engineers were going to detonate explosives to sink the structure, but it began to break up beforehand, creating a danger for downstream bridges.  Fortunately, a tugboat pilot saved the day.

It may be possible to reconstruct the walkway from the existing pieces, though I expect there will be many more demands when the full scale of this disaster becomes apparent.  But the Aussies are a reslient people, as this note from Queensland’s Active Transportation Manager illustrates. 

From Peter Berkeley:

I have been amazed at how people’s behaviour has changed with the flood as the catalyst.  Friends of mine who live in a street that partially flooded this morning said that yesterday as the water came up through the storm water system that there was an almost street party atmosphere.  Neighbours who had not spoken to each other for years if at all where helping each other and chatting like long lost friends.  

When I was out yesterday morning I could not believe the amount of people that where walking and cycling around and the roads where so quiet and relatively free of traffic.  In the face of disaster some wonderful things where happening. The age old question is why does it take something like this to happen in order for people to band together and help each other out.  

I often say to people when talking about climate change and energy vulnerability issues like peak oil that we can’t wait for the emergency to arrive to start knowing and working with each other.  We have to have our social and neighbourhood systems in place well in advance – relationships that can take years to cultivate fully.

A comparison: