View towards Brisbane from Fortitude Valley of flooded Brisbane River

News of the day

Brisbane Courier, Monday 6 February 1893, page 2

The Brisbane Courier.


WHEN in March, 1890, the citizens of Brisbane gazed with astonishment and awe on the encroaching waters of the largest flood known to the memory of white men it was little anticipated that within three years another flood would overtop its predecessor, and work more appalling havoc. The first Sunday of February, 1893, has proved the most memorable in the calendar for many years past; we hope it will remain the most memorable for many years to come. On every vantage ground round Brisbane crowds gathered yesterday to witness the imposing and fearsome sight. The flood had risen twelve or thirteen feet above that of 1890, and the evidences of destruction were proportionally greater. The produce of many a hard-working farmer went hurrying down the turbid waters. Hundreds of wooden houses, once the happy homes of owner or occupier, careered upon the flood, often remaining whole till they struck Victoria Bridge, when they crashed like matchboxes, and broke away into shapeless masses of wood and iron. Many of these houses contained furniture; and there is an awesome rumour that in some cases they carried the human inmates to hopeless death. It may be taken as certain that loss of life has been occasioned, though whether in this fearful fashion we are not yet in a position to assert. Steamers were driven ashore or laid on the tops of wharves; some kept steaming to their anchors in midstream; while yet others were every now and again soon to break from their moorings and yield to the impetuous flood. Fortunately most of these had steam up, and by the use of anchors and engines saved themselves. Among the vessels thus carried away were two dredges, only one of which had steam, and a number of Government barges, all of which were helpless. With them went the Advance, also helpless, and in much worse condition than if she had remained on duty at Moreton Island. Smaller craft were carried off to almost certain wreck. Ferry houses, sheds, and baths broke away, rolled over, and collapsed.

Very different were the sentiments of the onlookers according as they had or had not personally suffered. Most were interested only as in gazing at the greatest spectacle of their lives. From some few expressions of pity might be heard for the losers. But every here and there were drawn faces and wet eyes, for the Friday and Saturday nights had driven hundreds from their homes in the pitiless rain, many leaving their little all behind them. Some unfortunate families, believing that the flood of 1890 could not be equalled or exceeded, had to remove twice over. Square miles of residential ground were covered by the flood, and hundreds of acres dry three years ago lay under water. In the low-lying parts of Queen-street the water was feet deep on the street floors; and many cellars barely touched in 1890, our own underground premises included, were sub-merged. Grave fears were entertained during the day for the safety of Victoria Bridge, where towards the south end the water rose over the planking, and against which heavy logs, houses, and barges crashed and thundered. The bridge has been more or less damaged; but it is rumoured that under direction of the Colonial Secretary, who made himself busy on the scene, measures will be taken to remove the incubus; and it is hoped the important structure will yet stand the strain. Yet the painful fact that the Indooroopilly Bridge is gone makes it look the more serious for our own.

Over all the damage must be enormous; but it is impossible yet to give an estimate; and in the present excited state of the community the estimates thrown out approach to those of panic. People have been in the habit of saying that it only needed a flood to complete our disasters; and now that the flood has come, and come in unparalleled proportions, it is freely asserted that Queensland is ruined. But Queensland is a big word; ruin is a big word; and there is nothing to justify their combination. Cities and States all the world over have survived worse calamities. In Brisbane and suburbs the edge of the calamity has been blunted by the warning given and the opportunity taken to remove effects. And there is something in calamity itself to rouse the British race to action, and even to more effective action than if the calamity had not fallen. Mean-while we must do the duty that lies nearest to us, and that duty clearly is to relieve the most necessitous of the sufferers. The meeting to be held today for the unemployed must become a meeting for the homeless and the destitute. We must do for the flooded out of 1893 what we did for the flooded out of 1890. Nor do we doubt that it will be done. The help already so freely tendered in the crisis is proof that it will be done. The citizens of Brisbane, many of whom have their savings waiting investment, will remember that there is no investment like brotherly help. "He that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord."




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