The person I interviewed was a second cousin to my father, who lived near Brisbane at the time of the flooding. He had retired from his 9-5 occupation at the time. He operated a grocery shop in the area and owned 5 acres of land in the area. He had built a house on the land and operated a farm from which some of his grocery shop supplies came from. I chose to interview him since he experienced the effects go the floods on a first hand basis both socially and economically. He has since moved from the area and began new ventures as a way of recovering from the economic losses experienced.
Mr. Kensley had lived in Brisbane for nearly 30 years and had not anticipated such an event to happen in his time. He recalls that in November, the weather department had predicted heavy showers expected in November and that people should prepare for the rains. As usual, he prepared his farm in anticipation for the rains. However, the rains were heavier than expected and the banks of Brisbane river exploded flooding the nearby areas. Various businesses had closed since the weather conditions were unfavorable. He added that it had become difficult to obtain certain supplies that were transported through the river. In addition, the water purification system was contaminated due to the floods. The intensity of the floods necessitated an evacuation due to the mass destruction of homes. His store was greatly affected by the floods as most of the food supplies were spoilt and the shop itself was overrun by water. Fortunately for him and his family, he was among the people rounded up by the local authorities and evacuated. He says that the Australian people demonstrated high levels of patriotism by actively volunteering towards the cause. He however faulted the government for the lack of proactive response to the threat of the floods. He feels that there was sufficient warning given for the government to secure the river banks. He was compensated for the losses experienced in the shop by his insurance company. Also, the government compensated him for the loss experienced on his land. He points out that after the floods the land prices of the area had gone down. Land owners experienced capital losses on the land they owned. In addition, the cost of food had gone up due to the increase in transportation costs and destruction of food supplies in the farms which had lowered supply levels. He notes that other costs included a flood levy imposed by the government as a means of funding reconstruction works.
The floods had cast a dark shadow over the individuals who lived in Queensland at the time. Politically, the people lacked faith in the local government. He points out that although there was an immediate reactive response by the government, a proactive response would have been better and would have reduced the amount of losses experienced. Also, the decision to tax a levy on the general public seemed unfair since there was a disaster management fund set aside from the budget for such causes (French and Whatley,2011,45) Economically, the flood proved that the food economic structure needed reorganization. The area heavily relied on the locally produced agricultural products and when the floods occurred, these produce were destroyed leading to high price levels due to scarcity (van den Honert and McAneney, 2011, 1150) The people believed there was need to maintain safety stock for such occassions. In addition, land which was a main store of wealth proved to be quite fleeting. After the floods, land prices near the river immediately dropped since potential land owners were fearful of the risk the flooding of the river would present to any form of future investment as well as the deteriorated land conditions (Ehnis and Bunker, 2012, 9).
Mr. Kensley was quite emotional over the flood experience. He mentioned that the floods could not have come at a worst time. The floods had escalated during the Christmas period which made it one of the worst Christmas holidays for him and his family. He had owned the shop for quite a long period and losing it made him feel as though he had lost part of himself. He further added that the lives lost during the floods were quite unfortunate. The river which was once a source of life to the people of Queensland became a source of much pain and loss (Johnson and Mantha, 2013, 41) The events from the flood showed how cost push and demand pull inflation come into being. First the destruction of the river increased the transportation costs of goods from other parts of Australia. As a result, there was cost push inflation experienced since the price levels of food increased. Also, the area experienced demand push inflation. Since most of the farms in the area had been flooded, the food supplies had gone low (Bunce and Davis, 2012, 37). There was high demand compared to the supply level, this led to an increase in food prices in the area. Further, role of taxation and the effects of taxation can be seen from the flooding disaster. The government introduced a tax levy for reconstruction purposes. This tax was to increase the amount of available funds to the government for financing of government projects. Also, the tax levy would reduce the amount of disposable income available to the public for consumption (Bird and Hynes, 2012, 27) It is interesting to note that the government did not consider acquiring public debt in order to finance costs of rehabilitation and compensation for the areas affected by the floods (Pritchard, 2013, 167).
The Queensland floods revealed that government should maintain a proactive role in areas prime to disasters. In addition, the case revealed forms of government funding and its effects on price levels and consumption. Transport and infrastructure contribute to the cost aspect that influences price levels. Also, when supply is less than demand, the price levels are higher in order to compensate for scarcity (McDougall,2011,15). It was also clear that environmental conditions have an impact on land prices since poor conditions make people averse to buying land in that area
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van den Honert, R.C. and McAneney, J., 2011. The 2011 Brisbane floods: causes, impacts and implications. Water, 3(4), pp.1149-1173.
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Johnson, D.W., Hayes, B., Gray, N.A., Hawley, C., Hole, J. and Mantha, M., 2013. Renal services disaster planning: lessons learnt from the 2011 Queensland floods and North Queensland cyclone experiences. Nephrology, 18(1), pp.41-46.
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Ehnis, C. and Bunker, D., 2012, January. Social media in disaster response: Queensland Police Service-public engagement during the 2011 floods. In ACIS 2012: Location, location, location: Proceedings of the 23rd Australasian Conference on Information Systems 2012 (pp. 1-10). ACIS.
Pritchard, R.W., 2013. 2011 to 2012 Queensland floods and cyclone events: Lessons learnt for bridge transport infrastructure. Australian Journal of Structural Engineering, 14(2), pp.167-176.