Flood clean-up starts in Oz

Waters drained from the country’s third-largest city to expose the full horror of the devastation wrought when the Brisbane River burst its banks, with search teams recovering the body of a woman in the nearby Lockyer Valley.

Brisbane residents nervously returned to see what remained of their homes and businesses, as the muddy brown soup that had covered buildings up to their roofs dropped to reveal its aftermath.

“There is a lot of heartache and grief as people start to see for the first time what has happened to their homes and their streets,” Queensland state Premier Anna Bligh said a day after the river peaked. “In some cases we have street after street after street where every home has been inundated to the roof level, affecting thousands of people.”

She urged locals to help each other as the city of two million people began its daunting “post-war” rebuilding effort.

“I encourage people please to make an effort to help your friends, help your families,” she said, as locals slopped out thick layers of stinking mud from their homes and businesses and tried to salvage any possessions that survived.

The river dropped two metres from its peak of 4.46 metres, reached on Thursday, exposing damage that will add dramatically to Queensland’s estimated flood reconstruction bill of $5 billion.

More than 26,000 homes were flooded in Brisbane, 11,900 of them completely, and their owners are likely to be homeless for weeks or even months. 

At least 16 people have been confirmed killed in the floods in the last four days, most of them when flash floods hit the Lockyer Valley, west of Brisbane, and the town of Toowoomba on Monday.

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