Australia has had one of the worst flooding events in it's history but the use of social media has allowed people to stay connected with friends and family even without power via their mobiles. The great sign is that by using that same platform volunteers have started mobilising for the clean-up process using Facebook pages, Facebook groups, Messages and Status updates also by tracking Twitter hashtags #qldfloods #thebigwet. Both the response to mobilise volunteers and share images of the impact of the disaster would have not been possible without social media platforms and it's great to see that the community has rose to respond to the disaster quickly.Queensland Government Traffic InformationThe only official place to get regular updates is from 13 19 40 which will likely be fairly congested so you can visit their website 131940.qld.gov.au. Their flood maps are updated at 9am and 2pm each day covering the following regional areas in Queensland central west, darling downs, far north, fitzroy, mackay, north coast, north west, northern region, south coast, south west, wide bay region.New South Wales Government Traffic InformationYou can visit here to get live updates and travller information for NSW roads, including traffic flow, live traffic cameras and areas affected by Floods or Fire. You can get immediate information by phoning NSW RTA on 132 701.Victorian Government Traffic InformationYou can get updates on latest travel and road conditions from VicRoads, and you can get flood traffic alerts from the VicRoads mobile website or call VicRoads traffic management center on 13 11 70, anytime of the day.Google.org ResponseGoogle.org has started promoting via the Google AdWords platform a Crisis Response to the Australian Floods disaster, starting to muscle the massive resources of Google to provide a central place for Twitter Updates, Latest Flood News, and using it's mapping platform a Flood map. It has also been recognised that Google was fairly quick to start offering the below information at the top of any flood related search query which helped provide the necessary emergency information for many people.
High Resolution Maps of Flooded AreasIt's interesting that Near Maps were able to get live updated aerial photos of the flooded areas on the 13th January 2011 and around 5 times higher resolution than Google Maps so quickly. You can see below when you zoom in the extra detail possible that can help volunteers work out where the might be most needed. While the photos below don't show the full height of the flood waters it does allow for businesses and even insurers to remotely survey the damage to areas that are still underwater or not accessible due to other hazards.It would be great if Google Maps would be able to update their map tiles to show the impact of the disaster and increased the resolution of their photos as you can see how much better Near Map is, but that might just take a bit more time. There are also updates from Near Map twitter account that more maps showing more areas of Brisbane are soon going to be live with 2cm resolution of the flooded areas.Bing MapsSoul Solutions have also released a website that requires Silverlight plugin but allows you to overlay Brisbane City Council Flood predictions for Tuesday night, road closures as of 9am 12th January, along with river levels and NASA imagery of the flooded areas over Bing Maps. It is very interesting because you can also overlay the historical floods of 1893 and 1974 to see how the flooded areas were almost identical in much of the Brisbane area. The issue is that the road closure data is only really useful at a zoom level of 100kms so does not cover minor roads and only focuses outsideAreas Affected by Flood Related Road ClosuresTo understand how much of Australian infrastructure has been affected by the recent floods each of the purple spots below is a road closure due to flood waters, which will also continue to spread south into New South Wales as the weather pattern moves out of Queensland and towards Victoria.Impacted by Rising River LevelsThe impact of the scale of the flooding disaster is also shown in the impact on river levels shown below with the impact of flooding shown in the coloured legend. While much of the impact has been on the east coast of Australia it may not include every possible stream/creek that experienced flooding due to the weather pattern.Australian Rainfall MapIn a effort to provide more accurate information the Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology has offered an improved map shown below of the past 24 hours rainfall.Courier Mail Warned Us!You can see the scale of the impending disaster as predicted Flood Map for the whole of Brisbane that was expected to be inundated by the Tidal Surge but the potential disaster was actually highlighted back in a story they published 30th October 2009 that around 28,651 properties could be affected by such an event that happened this week in the "overland flow flood maps".Rezoning of Property NeededThere will have to be some reconsideration of zoning in the flood areas as a number of homes,businesses and structures will have to be demolished due to the damage from the flood waters and floating debris and there will be discussions needed on if all of these should be rebuilt or turned into parkland incase the event happens again.Global Economic ImpactAt the peak of the disaster upto 113,000 houses were without power but could have been far worse if the flood height exceeded the 1974 flood but it's predicted the flood will cut 1% of Australia's GDP growth and will impact the world's economy as the state of QLD produces half of the world's coking coal used in the production of steel. It is already likely the the spot prices of Coking coal will increase past the initial 9.4% as the true impact of the disaster is realised.Show Support for those affectedYou can join community Facebook pages like News Limited's QLD Floods page, signup to be an emergency volunteer, or donate to the QLD Premier's Flood Relief Appeal directly. One of the true leaders during the disaster was the Queensland Police Service who have the best source of information, contact details and information on the recovery and clean-up effort. Please always check the legitimacy of charities when donating to help flood victims in central and south east Queensland by visiting the Scam Watch website.