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The unprecedented floods from which this part of the colony is at present suffering have, since last publication, reached the magnitude of a widespread calamity. A number of lives have been lost; hundreds of persons have been deprived of their homes and of the whole of their little possessions and the loss of merchantable goods cannot at present be estimated. At the time of writing we are able only to give on outline of the chief occurrences of the past forty-eight hours in Brisbane, but there is sufficient to show that the flood is one altogether without parallel since the settlement of the Brisbane district.
Not until roads again become passable will it be possible to form anything like an exact idea of the mischief wrought. Brisbane was last night without communication by road, rail, or telegraph with any of the outlying districts, as indeed it has been since Friday night, so that the facts procurable were simply those relating to the immediate vicinity of the capital.
Last night the water was between 11ft, and 12ft. above the flood mark of 1890; but in spite of local rain the water slowly receded from 9o'clock. From about midnight on Saturday until yesterday evening very little rain fell, and it was generally hoped that fine weather would set in for a time at all events; but by sunset last evening steady rain again began, and the night as it fell over the city was perhaps the most gloomy that has yet been experienced.
No gas had been available since an early hour on Saturday night, and though some lamps in Queen and George streets were lit by Messrs Barton, White, and Co. from electricity generated at the Government Printing Office, this served to light but a small portion of the inundated streets.
Every effort is being made to supply the immediate needs of the suburban residents driven from their homes, and while many in various districts were accommodated in empty houses, shelter and relief were also afforded at the Town Hall and other public places. Police and Defence Force men worked hard to save life and minimise, where possible, the destruction wrought, and many young men, members of athletic clubs and football and cricket teams, worked with a will, plying in boats the whole of Saturday night from point to point where help was needed.
Where the local authorities took the work systematically in hand as in the case of Booroodabin much needless suffering was avoided, but emergency of such an unexampled nature could not in any case be fully met. Many persons needlessly risked life for the sake of trifles, and in several instances death by drowning was the result.
The havoc wrought amongst country and suburban residences along the course of the river must have been enormous. All night long on Saturday the crash of houses driven against the Victoria Bridge and torn to pieces could be heard above the roar of the water, and the number thus destroyed must have considerably exceeded 100, to say nothing of those which had been dismembered before reaching the bridge.
In the suburbs the water lifted numerous houses from their blocks, and the wind, even where there was no current, drove them in all directions. Indeed until the waters recede it will not be possible to form an idea as to what amount of damage has been done.
The most serious destruction of public property, so far as is known, is the loss of the railway bridge at Indooroopilly, but even there the damage cannot be assessed at present, as it is not known how many of the piers of the bridge may remain uninjured. Amongst the shipping the steamers Natone, Boko, Konoowarra, the dredges Groper and Platypus, and the steamer Advance, with other smaller vessels, were washed down the river and driven ashore at various points; but it may be hoped that many of these will be got off.
The question in every mind has naturally been, Where will it stop? Mr Wragge, in the absence of any telegraphic advices, did not feel justified in making any definite forecast; but he stated yesterday afternoon that he still expected more rain, and so far as last night was concerned this was fully borne out.
A great deal of drunkenness was unfortunately observable in various directions. The weather was no doubt the excuse for the over-indulgence of many; but when kegs and barrels of beer floating away from the West End Brewery were washed ashore at the foot of Bowen-terrace and others from the Phoenix Brewery were picked up in Fortitude Valley the scenes enacted were disgusting in the extreme, and men were seen drinking all they could and then quarrelling for possession of the cask containing the balance. Several of the accidents which occurred are undoubtedly the result of this and similar misconduct. At Moggill Creek at 5 o'clock yesterday the water had fallen 1ft.
Throughout Saturday afternoon and evening the flood waters continued to rise with alarming rapidity, and as the river rose all the low-lying portions of the city became more and more submerged. It soon became evident that the disastrous flood of 1890 would sink into insignificance beside that of 1893; still few believed that it would attain the proportions which it has done.
Notwithstanding the excitement which prevailed in the city, and the anxiety with which the steady incoming of the waters was regarded, the number of people to be seen about the streets was not nearly as large as on an ordinary Saturday afternoon. This was to be accounted for by the fact that residents in the suburbs and along the lines of railway who could stay at home did so.
Only the more venturesome, and those whose presence in the city was imperative, adopted every means available to business, while all who had residences a little distance out of town, and who had visited the city, made for home as early in the afternoon as convenient, before communication by road or railway was cut off.
Of course a considerable number of warehouse proprietors and managers of premises in Queen, Eagle, and Creek Streets, and the thoroughfares running between Eagle Street and George Street, stayed in town and mournfully watched the flood gradually ascend into the ground floors of their premises, now and again making inspections in order to ascertain how matters stood.
At night the city was in more than semi-darkness. There was no gas, except in the higher portions of Spring Hill, where the pressure left in the mains was sufficient to permit of more or less being obtained. Most of the business establishments in Queen Street closed early, but a few of the shops were kept open till the usual hours of closing, and transacted what business came to them by the aid of kerosene lamps and candles.
Long before midnight even those enterprising dealers had become alarmed at the near approach of the waters to their places of business, and some of them at once set to remove their goods from the street floor of the shops to the upper regions of the buildings.
Soon after darkness set in the lower part of Queen Street between Eagle Street fountain and Creek Street began to be covered with water which before midnight must have been about 3ft. in depth. By that time the whole of the lower part of Eagle Street was completely submerged, and the waters were steadily making their way up the cross street and rising in the large business premises of these thoroughfares.
At 9 o'clock a measurement was taken in Messrs Harper's office, at the corner of Albert and Mary streets, and it was found that the highest point reached by the flood of three years since had been exceeded by 4½ft. In some of the warehouses work in removing goods to safer positions was carried on, and even at a very late hour drays could be seen laden with goods, making their way to the more central and higher portions of the town.
Messrs Denham Bros., in Mary Street, in this way succeeded in removing all but about £40 or £50 worth of produce to premises at the upper end of Elizabeth Street. In a few of the warehouses workmen were stationed, ready at any moment, to remove goods from the lower to the upper story should necessity arise for this.
On Saturday night Edward Street from the Metropolitan Hotel to Alice Street was a sheet of water, in places 8ft. or 9ft. deep; and in Albert Street the waters had reached a good distance on the Queen Street side of Elizabeth Street, and as a rise was still taking place, shopkeepers there were showing great activity in clearing the ground flours of their premises of goods. A gang of men were engaged in removing organs and other musical instruments from the storehouse of Messrs Pollard and Co.; and a valuable stock of bicycles in the shop adjoining was also saved.
At the Victoria Bridge a knot of people had collected, and in the semi-darkness, for the moon was making a struggle to give a little light, regarded the rising and swiftly running waters, and were made aware as crash after crash was heard against the girders of the structure that another house was being carried down the river. Within a space of ten minutes four houses came down with the current, and passed under the bridge.
During the afternoon and evening, and also throughout the night, great masses of debris were being carried down the river, and fears began to be entertained that some serious damage might be caused to the bridge. It was therefore deemed advisable, at 4 o'clock in the morning, to stretch a rope across at each entrance, and those passing over the structure were informed that they must do so entirely at their own risk.
At midnight the low-lying parts of Adelaide Street, between Creek and Edward streets, were inundated, and the water was flowing steadily round the corner of Edward Street and into Carew, Gardner, and Billington's and the Courier cellars by way of the Courier-lane. Efforts were still being made to lessen the water in the cellars of the Brisbane Newspaper Company by pumping, and to keep it back by means of a dam but these were of little use, and soon all the available workmen had to direct their attention to the removal of bales of paper from the lower portions of the building to the vestibule.
Mr Gardner, of Carew, Gardner, and Billington, had remained in town, having become alarmed at the rapid rise of the waters in the firm's premises during the day, although all the goods had been taken on Friday from the cellars to the first floor. In the early hours of yesterday morning a band of willing helpers and a gang of labourers were set to work, and under Mr Gardner's supervision the goods on the first floor were removed to the floor above. At the same time the employees of the firm and others were engaged in doing a similar service in Finney, Isles, and Co.'s warehouse, on the opposite side of the street.
The scene from the Observatory, on the upper part of Wickham-terrace, yesterday afternoon was one never to be forgotten by those who looked upon it. A gentleman was heard to say that, when a boy, some forty years ago, he heard his father state that a blackfellow had informed him that his tribe had seen what is now known as South Brisbane covered by the flood waters.
Looking across the Valley towards St. Lucia it was easy to realise the truth of such a statement. On the south side the river had overflowed its bank to an enormous extent; and but for the appearance of the top of a building here and there it might easily have been supposed that the waters were only occupying their natural bed.
The prospect was a deplorable one. Not only were all the buildings in the lower parts of the sister borough underwater to a greater or lesser extent, but it was known that not a few had been carried down the river, and now and again the roof of what had been a commodious dwelling was to be seen floating down with the current and remain intact until it was crashed against Victoria Bridge
. It was estimated that nearly fifty houses were carried down the river from the upper reaches during yesterday; and it was remarked that in many of these a portion of the roof had been removed, as if at the last moment the occupant had saved their lives as the waters rose higher and higher by escaping through the roof.
On these floating houses there was no sign of human life, and it may therefore be hoped that, disastrous as the flood has been in other respects, it has not been attended with so great a loss of life as might be feared under the circumstances. The current was running very strongly, and the water flowed on the southern end of Victoria Bridge and almost touched the decking on the Queen Street side. The overflow of the river extended almost as far up as Edmonstone Street, half of Musgrave Park being apparently submerged.
So far as the eye could reach along the bend of the river towards St. Lucia nothing was to be seen but the havoc wrought by the flood, and it could only be surmised that the residents on the St. Lucia Estate must be having a rather trying and anxious time, if they had not indeed sought refuge on the higher grounds in the vicinity. The gasworks were rendered useless, the water being nearly up to the top of the gasometers, and all the houses along Montague Road had suffered severely. Some of them were completely under water, while in other instances only the tops of the roofs could be seen.
A conspicuous building was the West End Brewery. The water had risen up to the windows of the second story, and all the dwellings in its immediate neighbourhood were completely hidden by the waters or nearly so. To the south, as far as Park Church, the flood was so high as to reach the roofs of one-story buildings; and all the flat country to the east, as far as the high rising ground at theend of Grey Street, and north from that was transformed into a lake.
Fortunately, the people had had sufficient warning given to them to leave their homes for safer localities, and only one fatality on the south side of the river is reported.
That portion of the East Ward sacred to the carrying on of wholesale business may be said to have felt the full force of the inundation, for between Queen Street and Alice Street on the one side and the river and Albert Street on the other the ground is almost wholly under water, at places to a depth of 15ft. or 16ft., but that part of the ward extending to Adelaide Street between Eagle and Edward streets was not exempt from the ravages wrought by the flood.
Yesterday, Queen Street, from the Bank of Australasia to Nicholson's music warehouse, was submerged, with the exception of about a hundred yards at the Post Office. Creek Street, from Queen Street to Adelaide Street, and Adelaide Street, from Creek Street to Edward Street, was under water, and in the latter street the water was 8ft. or 10ft. deep in portions.
Excepting for the small part of Queen Street already mentioned, a boat could go round the immense block of buildings extending from the Courier office to the Queensland National Bank and from the Gresham Hotel to the corner of Edward and Adelaide streets. The Gresham Hotel could be entered in a boat, the water being half way up to the ceiling of the first floor.
The shops at the intersection of Edward and Adelaide streets were submerged to the veranda tops, and in Carew, Gardner, and Billington's and Finney, Isles, and Co.'s premises the waters were several feet over the first floor. The flood waters also extended along Adelaide Street as far as Stewart and Hemmant's, where yesterday afternoon, dozens of men were employed in removing goods from the warehouse to the vestibule of the Centennial Hall.
From the Normal School to the Botanic Gardens was a small river, all the buildings along that thoroughfare being more or less under water. In Eagle Street the waters came up to within thirty yards of the fountain, and the warehousemen in close proximity to the river must have sustained heavy losses. In Elizabeth Street the water, came up as far as the Theatre Royal Hotel, in Charlotte Street to within a few yards of the Oddfellows' Hall, in Mary Street to the beginning of the Queensland Club Hotel grounds, in Margaret Street to considerably passed Watson and Co.'s, and in Alice Street to beyond the Masonic Hall.
In Harper and Co.'s premises the waters rose 9ft. over the level of the previous flood. Edward Street was wholly under water, and in Albert Street there was no break from half way between Elizabeth Street and Queen Street to the Botanic Gardens.
As yet nothing can be said of the losses likely to be sustained, but these must be enormous, as practically every place of business between Adelaide and Alice streets and Albert and Eagle streets, has shared in the present visitation, while many of the buildings have been under water to a depth of 15ft. or 16ft.
As all communication with South Brisbane was stopped yesterday, no accurate account as to the ravages made by the inroad of the flood waters could be obtained. Some idea of the height to which the waters reached could be formed, however, from observation of the buildings in Stanley Street, which could be seen from the north side of the river.
The buildings erected on Webster's wharf were almost hidden by the waters, and the roof had sustained damage. The Musgrave wharf buildings were submerged, the water coming up to the name lettering on the roof. Hargrave's buildings in Stanley Street were under water to the depth of, it is estimated, about 20ft., the water reaching to within a foot or two of the window sills of the second story.
All along Stanley Street the buildings were submerged to a proportionate extent, the dip in the thoroughfare of course making a difference in certain places.
The platform of Melbourne Street Station was under water, and only for a very short distance could the line between the station and Vulture Street keep above the highest point reached by the flood. Of South Brisbane it may be said that the borough between Walmsleys Point and the Dry Dock in one direction and Walmsley's point and Hill End in another was submerged.
North Quay has suffered seriously. At the flood of 1890 this portion of the city was almost wholly exempt from the inroad of the river. On this occasion, however, the waters, which three years ago merely covered certain portions of the road, have risen so high as to submerge that part of the thoroughfare from the beginning of the corporation wall to a long way past Boundary Street (Hale Street). A break also took place in the roadway there.
The carriage works were covered to the depth of 8ft. or 10ft., and all the houses between McCormack's and Boundary Street were submerged, the waters coming up nearly to the roofs. On Saturday afternoon the residents were compelled to leave their houses, and as no time was given them to save much of their belongings some of them have been considerable losers.
The difference between the previous flood and the present one may be judged from the fact that while three years ago Bennet's house, just on the other side of Boundary Street, escaped injury the water is on this occasion nearly up to the second story. The houses in Boundary Street have also been sufferers. From one residence the occupants had to be taken away in a boat, as in consequence of one of the inmates being unwell they refused to leave until it was made clear to them that unless they did so they would certainly lose their lives.
The only other portion of the North Quay under water was that between the back entrance to the Supreme Court and a little beyond Turbot street. At the Market wharf the river had risen as high as the boundary railings, and the roadway was flooded to the depth of several feet. The water was half way up the doors of the ice works, which were under water, while the ground to the back was submerged. The waters were about thirty yards up Ann Street, but did not reach to any of the houses there.
At the lane which runs from Queen Street down to the river at the back of the Museum the river overflowed the roadway. The Queen's wharf was completely covered, and the Colonial Stores were under water to the depth of 2ft. or 3ft., as were also the lower portions of the old immigration barracks.
Further on Pettigrew's works were to a great extent under water, and a small stone building there collapsed. D. L. Brown and Co.'s Short Streetwarehouse was underwater to the depth of about a dozen feet. All the Short Street houses had to be vacated. The Alice Street ferry was completely hidden, the top of the lamp-post on the ferry-house alone being visible.
Previously the majority of the residents of New Farm have been out of the reach of flood waters, but the present flood has found its way into all the low-lying portions of the district. The old racecourse has suffered terribly, and all the houses on it are completely submerged; and the water has now reached a depth of some 20ft. in some places. Most of the residents had prepared for the flood, and left their homes, as the racecourse is generally swamped even after an ordinary downpour.
All the low-lying land between Kent Street and the racecourse is inundated. Annie and Heal streets, which slope downwards between Teneriffe and Bowen-terrace, are submerged to a considerable depth, and there are some 10ft. of water in Annie Street. The water has stretched right up to the foot of Bowen-terrace, and a number of houses hereabouts are surrounded with water.
Mr Turner's residence, right on the bend of the river, is also threatened, as the water has succeeded in getting within a short distance of the house, and most of the large area of this land is submerged. Mr Matthews's residence and nursery have suffered severely, the gardens being completely submerged, and only a small portion of the house is visible. Mr Tozer's residence is also threatened, as the water is not very far from the house, and if the river continues to rise the water will no doubt reach it.
The lower part of Sir Samuel Griffith's residence, on the bank of the river, is also covered, but the homestead is not at present in any immediate danger. Hundreds of people were stationed on Bowen-terrace throughout the day watching the debris passing, and the greatest interest and anxiety prevailed. The residents are doing all they can to render assistance to less fortunate neighbours.
The water which had accumulated in those districts on Saturday has increased in the majority of places to a great depth. Wickham and Ann streets, from the Oriental and Osborne Hotels respectively, are covered with water, except in two places, todepths varying from 1ft. to 8ft. The water stretches from Ann Street across to Jane Street, and from there down to thegasworks, and all the country between the latter place and James Street, except on the hill leading to Teneriffe, is covered with water to a considerable depth, and the majority of the houses are surrounded with water, the tops only being visible.
Some of the residents in this neighbourhood had not thought it possible the floods could rise so high, and consequently did not shift until too late. A large number of boats were plying backwards and forwards all day. Some of the members of the Salvation Army did splendid work, and they cannot be too highly praised. Furniture was being taken from a number of houses throughout Saturday night and yesterday, the only means of ingress in many cases being through the roof, which had to be broken in.
The Catholic Church in James Street has also been entered by the water. At the Waterloo Hotel the water has reached perhaps its greatest depth in these districts, being in places some 15ft. and more. Most of the buildings in the neighbourhood are two stories high, and the water has in most cases risen above the balcony, and some it has completely submerged. The tram stables in Light Street, between Wickham and Ann streets, are also nearly covered.
Here as elsewhere boats of all descriptions are carrying passengers and furniture to places of safety. All wheel traffic has been suspended since Saturday night. Further on, in the vicinity of the gasworks and the Newstead district, nothing but a dreary expanse of water meets the eye. From the foot of O'Reilly's Hill to the other side of the river water in this neighbourhood has also considerably increased.
Boats have been busily engaged shifting the goods and chattels of the flooded residents to more secure places. All the houses situated on safe ground in these districts, and unoccupied previous to the flood, have been lent to the Booroodabin Divisional Board, so that the numerous families who have had to leave their own homes can be placed in safety. The Primary School in Brookes Street has also been placed in the hands of the board, and a large number of the unfortunate people are installed there.
Perhaps no place has suffered more severely from the ravages of the flood than the Breakfast Creek district and the country stretching from the creek bridge towards the Albion, more especially the latter direction. The scene presented by this district on Saturday morning was terrible to look upon, but to attempt to give a description of the place when our reporter visited it last evening would be in vain, and the devastation will be terrible.
Stationed in a boat near the creek bridge nothing but water can be seen in the Albion direction as far as the eye could reach. The previous day some houses and the tops of others were visible, but yesterday nothing but a vast sheet of water was presented to the eye as far as the foot of the Albion Hill.
Fortunately the majority of the residents had prepared for the flood, and had forsaken the homes for places of safety. A large number of boats were at hand ready to render any aid required. Breakfast Creek has, of course, risen to a great height, and all the boathouses and the bridge were completely submerged. A strong current was running in the creek.
From an early hour on Saturday until we went to press early this morning the scene presented on the river was one of the utmost seriousness. It was not until late on Saturday afternoon that the worst was expected, but as the river rose foot by foot the inhabitants of the lower portions of the Quay, particularly between the bridge and Boundary Street(Hale Street), commenced their preparations to move.
More distressful surroundings could not possibly be conceived, for the rain was coming down with a steady downpour which threatened even more serious consequences than were then impending. Long before nightfall the flood mark of 1890 had been reached and passed, and still there was no sign of a diminution of the flood waters.
When the tale of the great flood of 1893 is told over again those persons who witnessed the scene from the Victoria Bridge will have varied recollections. But for the unhappy circumstances surrounding it the picture would have been almost one of grandeur. As it was it was piteous.
Many hundreds of persons assembled on the northern approaches soon after daybreak to see what there was to see. The river told an unmistakable tale of the havoc which has been wreaked in its watersheds. Long before Saturday night had set in houses could be seen coming down, and it was with breathless anxiety that the crash was awaited as the roofs struck the bridge.
The anxiety was increased by the fact that it was impossible to tell what damage had resulted to the bridge itself by such repeated collisions, and so serious were things regarded that shortly before midnight the authorities deemed it necessary to close public traffic. So far as vehicular traffic was concerned this made no difference, as it had to be suspended some hours before, but there were still a low venturesome persons who chose to take the risk of passing over the structure, whatever the consequences might be.
The sight which was seen yesterday morning from the top of Queen Street, facing the southern portion of the city, was one which will live in the memory of all who saw it. Not inch by inch, but foot by foot, had the waters risen in the night, until it was impossible to say where it was going to end. With remorseless flow the flood waters swept on, bearing on their bosom houses, stables, trees, snags of all sizes, and even livestock. Every now and again a cry would be raised that there was another structure coming down, and then would follow a rush to the river side to see the building strike the bridge.
It was a literal rending of the heart strings when the crash came,and what was at one time - and how short a time since! - a comfortable residence smashed against the bridge like an egg in a strong man's hand. Time after time was this repeated with a sickening regularity, and as the day wore on the timbers piled up against the bridge side grew and grew until their pressure on the structure itself threatened to become serious.
One of the most serious things which threatened the safety of the bridge was a punt which had been washed away from above, and which came down with a tremendous sweep on the construction. It was a marvellous thing that the punt - a very massive one - struck bow on, and running clean into the bridge literally stuck there. Even then it was a serious matter, what with the weight of the boat and the pressure of the flood waters behind. At one time there was a suggestion to blow the boat up, but this was not doomed advisable; in fact, if it had been carried out, the bridge itself might have been imperilled by the explosion.
So far as could be seen very few livestock were carried down the river. Occasionally one would see a cat perched on top of a house, and perhaps some fowls, or a duck or two, or a cow; but at no time was there the sign of human life in jeopardy. This was the one solitary consolation which the sightseers could afford themselves. It was heart-rending to see thousands of pounds' worth of property destroyed before one's very eyes and be unable to in any way avert it.
No matter how heartfelt might be one's sympathy for the distressed, assistance was utterly impossible. The most serious apprehensions were entertained for the bridge itself, and practical men-engineers and others—confessed that things could not possibly be more serious. The night fell with this gloomy aspect at its worst.
Sometime in the afternoon the drizzling rain, which had been falling since daybreak, ceased, but this was succeeded by a "stuffy" atmosphere, which gave undeniable symptoms of more rain. Nor were these symptoms misleading, for as soon as night fairly set in it commenced to come down in torrents. The crowd was as great as ever at the bridge approaches, and still the anxiety continued as to whether the bridge would be wrecked.
The river as viewed from Bowen-terrace last evening was one seething mass of water rushing along at tremendous speed, and carrying in its sway everything that did not offer a stubborn resistance. All the wharves are now completely submerged to a considerable depth, the tops of the various sheds thereon alone being visible At Messrs Howard Smith and Sons' wharf very little of the sheds could be seen.
The steamer Gabo, which was brought up to the wharf on Friday, is now actually floating on the top of the wharf, and her decks are higher than the road at Petrie's Bight.
Grave fears are entertained as to her safety, or of her swaying on to the top of the shed, and steam is being kept up to meet any emergency.
Messrs William Collin and Sons' wharf at the foot of Boundary Street has been carried away, and also the goods-shed. The large wharf adjoining Collin's also suffered a similar fate. At the Australasian United Steam Navigation Company's wharf the tops of the goods-sheds are alone visible.
Sutton's ironworks at Kangaroo Point have, with the exception of a couple of the buildings, been swept out of existence, and last evening the heavy sheer-legs, which had stood the stress of water all day, subsided with a crash. Messrs Peacock and Co.'s jam factory close by has also been carried downstream, and several private houses in the same vicinity have shared a similar fate.
The steamer Konoowarra, which was anchored in midstream round Kangaroo Point with the steamers Wodonga and Buninyong, parted her cable yesterday morning and drifted into the grounds of a private residence at the foot of Merthyr Road. The steamers Lady Musgrave and Boko also drifted from their moorings in the upper part of the river, but fortunately met with no further mishap. They are now moored at New Farm.
About 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon a number of vessels were seen drifting down the river from the Garden reach, where they had been moored together.
It was feared by the hundreds of spectators who were watching the occurrence from Bowen-terrace that all the craft would be dashed to pieces on the rocks below. Opposite Messrs Howard Smith and Sons' wharf the boats parted company, the dredge Groper and the dam-dredge Tridaona, with a steam barge, being in one lot, and the steamer Advance and the dredges Platypus and Pumba in another.
Coming round near the foot of Boundary Street great excitement prevailed amongst the spectators, as destruction seemed inevitable, but this was quickly subdued, as the boats, owing to the splendid navigation of someone, were quickly swerved round out of danger, and they proceeded drifting down the river. The Metropolitan Baths were carried away, and as they were drifting down they collided with two large punts at the A.U.S.N. Company's wharf, which were carried with them.
In the list of public disasters must be placed the destruction of the Indooroopilly Railway Bridge, a structure which formed one of the picturesque features in the locality, and which even to the nonprofessional was a marvel of symmetry and grace.
The flood of 1890, the highest known since the bridge was built until the present terrible visitation, gave the structure a shaking, and at that time there were grave doubts that it would be able to withstand the shock of the vast body of water which for several days rushed with mighty force against the pier columns.
Precautions were taken then to assist the bridge by placing a train of loaded trucks upon it, and the great weight of the train must have materially assisted in keeping it in position. On Saturday last, when it was seen that the present flood was to eclipse all its predecessors, special steps were taken to combat the great force of water which came rushing down.
Not only was a loaded train again placed upon it, but under the direction of Mr H. C. Stanley, Chief Engineer for Railways, the rollers on the top of some of the pier columns which provided for the expansion of the bridge were blocked with steel wedges to prevent the swaying. Before nightfall on Saturday it was seen that the chances of the bridge standing the enormous strain put upon it were but small, and a large number of residents in the locality waited until a late hour with the idea of seeing the last of it. The evil hour was, however, deferred until about a quarter to 6 o'clock yesterday morning.
At the time stated there was a great crash and a roar like thunder, and one of the 80ft. spans of the bridge canted over downstream, and then disappeared under the seething flood.
The sound was heard distinctly nearly a mile from the site of the bridge, and very soon nearly all the residents of the locality were on the spot. The beautiful bridge was no more as a symmetrical whole. Not only was the 80ft. gap noticeable, but it was seen that one of the piers 160ft. from the Chelmer side of the river had gone.
The great span of 160ft. with the arched back was out of line, forced downstream, and with the southern end left without the support of the pier there was an oscillation of fully 18in. Up to 1 p.m. the remainder of the bridge stood, and there were hopes that it would survive the flood, This hope, however, was not shared by the engineers.
The spans which had been left were assailed by a mighty rush of water, far beyond anything anticipated when the structure was placed in position. Right up almost to the level of the floor the waters dashed, coming with a cross sweep from the south side. Occasionally downstream would come a large log, or a wrecked building, or other floating mass, and be hurled with a terrible force against the girders of the bridge.
From the columns of the piers the dirty yellow water recoiled and reared, roaring and showering its spray over the side rails of the doomed structure. The ends of the girders were caught by the flood and swept downwards, and at 1 p.m. the unsupported end of the 160ft. span with its beautifully designed arch was seen to move gradually downstream. A few feet only and there was a mighty report.
The span quivered for a moment in midstream, and then fell over and went down in that great surging mass of water. Up to 6 p.m., when a reporter left the scene of the disaster, the remainder of the bridge still stood, but there was but little hope that the morning would see anything beyond the spans on the north and south banks respectively. The feeling in Indooroopilly at the loss of the bridge was most keen. Apart from the national disaster, the sense of which was appreciated by all, there was the sentiment that one of the most picturesque of the local landmarks had gone.
A representative of this paper waited on Mr H. C. Stanley, Chief Engineer for Railways, yesterday morning at his residence, Indooroopilly. Mr Stanley seemed to feel the loss very much; one of the monuments of his work was gone. He nevertheless supplied some very interesting information concerning the bridge. It was started in 1874 and completed in 1876. It is an iron - not steel as is supposed - girder bridge, consisting of a centre span of "Hogback" character 160ft. in extent,, six 80ft. spans, and one 40ft. span, with parallel lattice girders.
The Indooroopilly Bridge was erected by the Government under the direction of Mr Stanley, Mr J. R Jones being supervising engineer. Mr Jones was the supervising engineer on Victoria Bridge for Messrs Peto, Brassey, and Betts. It cost about £52,000. Mr Stanley estimates that eighteen months' time will be required to replace the bridge.
As great anxiety was felt concerning the fine railway bridge at Indooroopilly a member of our staff yesterday morning started to make his way thither on horseback. The journey was accomplished without much difficulty by the circuitous route along Latrobe terrace, Bardon, round the road at the foot of Taylor's Range, up to Mount Coot-tha, and down to Indooroopilly on the opposite side of the Range. From the heights of Stennett's Corner and Mount Coot-tha an idea could be formed of the awful extent of the flood waters.
From the bottom of Latrobe Terrace there was one unbroken sheet of water extending right across the Oxford, Bayswater, and Milton Estates to West End on the other side of the river. The roofs of scores of houses could be seen in some cases only a few feet out of water. Nothing but the roof could be seen of the Congregational Church on the Bayswater Road, while little more could be discerned of the Milton State School.
Some of the submerged houses had partly toppled over, showing that the stumps had given way. From the summit of Mount Coot-tha the valley of the river was marked by an immense body of water, extending right from the Bay to apparently beyond Goodna.
From Indooroopilly there was a huge lake reaching, as far as could judged, far beyond Rocklea to the eastward, right across Indooroopilly Pocket and below Oxley Creek to the north, and to Sherwood Station on the south.
It was evident that the whole of the farms on Oxley Creek were submerged, as well as most of the farmers' houses. The greater part of Toowong seemed to be under water, and it was afterwards learned that the railway station was flooded, that the station master and many of the business people had been compelled to leave their residences.
It was also stated that the water was in the dining room of Mr Finney's residence, while the water was a considerable distance up the walls of Mr Gailey's house, which was on an island, being out off from the hills behind by what seemed to be a gully, but which was probably the cutting in the road. A boat could be observed moving about in this locality, and some others were observed in various localities.
The St Lucia Estate was under water, and but little could be seen of Mr G. W. Keith's residence. On the Oxley Point, all the low-lying places were under water. The farm houses of Messrs Mullen, Ewing, and Orr, on the left, were almost covered, as were also the house of Mrs Crawford and the Chelmer station-master's cottage, while the water was half way up the Chelmer shelter shed, and the line was under water from Indooroopilly to Graceville.
The residences of Mrs Montefiore, Cannan, Sutton, Steel, J. Brown, W. J. Morley, C. H. Buzacott, and others on the same level were some distance above the flood level. As the water had almost ceased rising—having come up only about four inches from 6 a.m. till 11— they were not in danger. The water was up to and apparently under Mr T. Clouston's and Mr Cardno's houses, but those of Messrs Bruce, Ramsay, Young, Frew, Costin, and Mrs T. H. Berry were clear of the water.
Mr Mousley's house was partly submerged, and Mr Primrose's was in the same state. The water was all around and up to a foot or two of the floor of Mr R. D. Neilson's picturesquely situated residence near the bridge, but the house of the railway ganger, Mr White, close by, was some distance clear of the flood.
The residents of Indooroopilly state that they saw from moving lights during the night that people in boats were busily engaged rescuing people from flooded houses. It is known that there were two or three rowing boats at Riverton, and one at the ferry, which no doubt were kept fully occupied by Mr Cannan and other residents.
The ground in the neighbourhood of Sherwood Station is highly situated, and no doubt the flooded out people will have sought refuge with the more fortunate occupants of houses in this locality.It is feared, however, that provisions will run short before communication with the north side can be established.
We learned last evening from the Weather Bureau that the rainfall in Brisbane for the twenty four hours ended at 9 a.m. yesterday was 4in., which with the 1·24in. registered on Saturday morning makes a total of 17·38in. since the commencement of the rain as against 9·19in. recorded during the 1890 flood. The barometer at 9 p.m. was going down, and there was at the time no indication of the rain ceasing.
During yesterday reports of a most sensational character were circulated concerning the effect of the flood at Fig-tree Pocket and Seventeen-mile Rocks. A reporter from this office visited the locality in the afternoon, and found happily that the reports of loss of life were quite unfounded. After leaving the Indooroopilly State School, the main Moggill Road can be travelled only as far as where the Witton flats water backs up.
Thence to beyond the gate of Mr Moore, jun., there is a wide stretch of deep water, with but little current, but covering the whole of the houses on the Witton side of the road.
To get out beyond this point the road which leaves the Moggill Road just beyond the school should be taken.
At the creek which flows through the Quarantine ground the culvert is in an unsafe condition in the centre, but sticks show the dangerous place, and horsemen with a little care can safely pass through. Thence to Figtree Pocket, by a route along the tops of the ridges, there is no water. In the pocket several of the farms are submerged, and Mr Garrigan's, Mr Kelly's, and several other houses are cut off.
The greater part of the Sanitary Company's shed has been washed away, but the other houses which the water had reached stand safely so far. There has been no risk to life, the residents leaving their homes as soon as it became evident that there was to be a heavy flood.
Mr James O'Brien, Mr Denniston, Mr Moran, and others suffer the loss of their crops, but there is no distress in this locality at present. The people who are washed out have in some cases found refuge with friends, and others have been accommodated in the church.
Opposite Fig-tree Pocket, in what is known as the Seventeen-mile Rocks district, there has been a great agricultural loss, but as far as could be ascertained there was no loss of life. The whole area from the river to the foot of the range of hills is an unbroken stretch of water.
In the Kenmore vicinity and out on the Moggill Creek there is a phenomenal spread of water. Moggill Creek has been backed up near Mr Woolcock's gate on the southern side, and on the north the water reaches Mr William Squires's gate. The Brookfield Road beyond Forder's is covered, and the low land at the rear of the Kenmore Hall has flood water on it for the first time in the memory of people who have been in the district for nearly twenty years.
Brookfield is not flooded. The Moggill Creek is high, but is crossable in most places with a short swim. The farmers in this neighbourhood have suffered very little. Between the Moggill Road and Fig-tree Pocket there is a fairly well-settled area known as Doughty's. This is nearly all under water, and the crops have been completely ruined. In the hollow where the road leads down going out towards Fig-tree there is over half a mile of deep water.
On Saturday afternoon the river broke clear across the Indooroopilly Pocket, and the positions of many of the families there became very serious. Mr Graham Hart's boat was obtained and conveyed by dray to the pocket, and rescue work in earnest was commenced. Messrs Arthur Feez, W. Hart, Tyler, Griffith, and Carr, jun., toiled vary hard until late in the evening, and rescued about 120 persons. The work was very trying, but had the little band not persisted many lives would have been lost.
Yesterday all over the pocket there was nothing but desolation. The full force of the current passes over nearly the whole of the area, and the receding water will show nothing but ruined homesteads. Eight houses were swept clean away—Palmer's, Penman's, Gormley's, Birr's, Glennie's, P. Carmody's, Blasdall's, and Dieball's. Glennie's was one of the prettiest places in the pocket, and was most carefully farmed.
Only the tops of the great fig trees mark where the house and sheds stood. The sufferers from the flood in this locality have been temporarily provided for, but there are many without a garment beyond what they were wearing when rescued. The distress here will be very great.
On Saturday afternoon when a reporter from this office visited Rocklea most of the residents had moved out of their houses and obtained shelter with neighbours. Boats were available, and at about 4 p.m. parties went out to bring Mr A. Radcliffe and Mr Moffatt with their families to places of safety. The water at 5 p.m. was up over the bars in the hotels.
There will be much suffering and privation through the flood losses, but so far as can be ascertained there has been no loss of life. Beyond Rocklea, on the Southport line, the flood has spread considerably.
At Salisbury many of the residents have been driven from their homes. At Cooper's Plains, on the Beaudesert Road, communication was stopped by the flood water early on Saturday.
Several persons are known to have been drowned during Saturday, and it is to be feared other cases remain to be reported. At Swan Hill a bus driver named George Keogh went in a dingy with four others to rescue some clothing belonging to a friend, and when in deep water they capsized the overloaded boat. Four of the party were saved, but poor Keogh lost his life.
A man named Young, a vanman, lost his life at the rear of the Palace Hotel, Stanley Street, on Saturday night. It is stated that he was attempting to get a hold of some fowls which were swimming about in deep water, and got beyond his depth and sank. The body was recovered shortly afterwards.
The water was over 7ft. deep on the road at Rosalie yesterday, and it had surrounded several houses. Amongst those is that of Constable Fagg, and as nothing has been heard or seen of him it is supposed that he has been drowned.
The destruction of property between Melbourne Street and Montague Road is described as something fearful, houses being damaged and washed away in almost every case.
In consequence of the peculiar position of the city, flooded and without light, special efforts were made on Saturday night to secure an efficient patrol wherever possible, and for this the police wore strengthened by the members of A Battery, Permanent Artillery. On Sunday night, too, special arrangements were made, and at every point where a street was blocked with water a constable was stationed at either end to warn passengers.
On inquiry we learn that before sunset yesterday the police had satisfied themselves, so far as the city was concerned, that no person remained in any house exposed to immediate danger from the flood.
The only exception to this was the case of a number of Chinamen in a house in Margaret Street, who refused to leave, though frequently asked to do so.
It is to be hoped that should circumstances unfortunately necessitate it the corporation will to-day provide suitable boats to enable persons to pass along Queen street, as the boat in use at Edward Street crossing yesterday was quite unsafe, and at Creek Street it was only at long intervals that the use of a punt could be obtained.