Monday, January 17, 2011

Skroo's flood disaster update

The QLD Floods and FCL (update by Skroo on Monday 17th Jan.)
The last week has seen devastation and destruction in SEQLD as well as a lot of human tragedy. (other parts of QLD NSW and VIC have suffered too of course) In the FCL Brisbane world we have had an event that tested our people, our support areas and our systems. Business areas like Peopleworks, Finance, Land and Air, IT, Web and ecomm, Marketing and Artworks much of FCL Australia (indeed some of Global) are dependent on the services that are based in Brisbane. The story so far ...

The rain storm was particularly devastating to the west of Brisbane with  the Lockyer Valley and Toowoomba receiving extremely heavy rain in a short time after days of steady rain. In the Lockyer Valley area Spicers Hiddenvale, which some of you know, received 300mm that  day. Around Toowoomba they received up to 100mm in 30 minutes at one stage. Many lives were lost and it was still raining heavily that night. Wivenhoe Dam was over capacity to 160% and would be at 200% in a day or two. (then the water release becomes uncontrolled by parts of the wall releasing)

Brisbane and Ipswich were in the firing line of huge volumes of water coming down the Lockyer and Bremer valleys as well as very large controlled releases from the flood mitigation dam - the Wivenhoe. We were told to prepare for one of the worst floods in hstory. Every thing at FCL was operating normally with contingency plans for the support of the rest of Australia being put into place.

With great credit to the Leaders of Peopleworks, Finance, Land and Air, IT, Web and ecomm, Marketing and Artworks and their people, there was minimal disruptions to our services and businesses during a pretty stressful and disruptive time in the CBD of Brisbane and many outlying areas. The CBD became deserted as the waters rose.

Living on the river at New Farm I initially dressed in my uniform to come to work and see how things were going  until getting a clear message from Jude that sandbagging our place was my first priority.

Being fully sandbagged at home, in at Queen St it was planned that people were either working from home or were supported by their compatriots interstate. Greg Parker and Murph actually flew people interstate to do their jobs (eg Ticketers and Payroll) or worked from shops that did not have to shut. This meant support in general happened  relatively seamlessly over those few days. 

Late that afternoon I did a 3 hour bike ride tour of the flooded areas to see how things were. It was very quiet but sunny in most areas with a lot of people having finished sandbagging now waiting for the peak and checking out what was going on. Few people were working. Many businesses were shut. We saw that in places like Eagle St, Coronation Drive, West End, Rosalie, St Lucia and Chelmer and Graceville the water was already high and still rising. Our family company headquarters at Chelmer by now was under about 6 feet of water. Places like Ipswich and Oxley, Rocklea, Jindalee and Sumner Park were already flooded.

Watching the river that night from our balcony we saw numerous sailing boats, pontoons and various debris flowing down the river at 20km an hour. At about 10.30 having dinner with the kids we saw a huge  hundred metre  or more chunk of the river walkway tearing down the river, accompanied by a police boat.

The flood peaked at high tide around 4am and again at 4pm. As predicted, Ipswich and the western suburbs of Brisbane were very badly flooded - generally accepted at near worst flood ever. The CBD seemed a little better off. At New Farm our place missed flooding by a metre. Many people were without power.
Rachel and her SWOT, Carole and the X Team met first up to see how well support in the various areas were working and to keep people informed. Queen St Head office had power on and Adelaide St had emergency power so anyone who could come in was asked to. We were getting back to normal operations by midday.

Friday in Head Office nearly everything was back to normal (Obviously some people still flooded in or started cleaning up). This was a great effort by the leadership and their teams and their determination to look after their businesses and customers. QLD went from 60 shops and business closed on Wednesday, down to about 20 not open on Friday and the teams from them were working in other shops. 

From my observations on Thursday and Friday, FCL stands out in stark contrast to many other Brisbane CBD based businesses in being open and trading and doing the essential support for the rest of Australia (and some Globally). 

Later on Friday I went out to our family business head office in Chelmer to find scenes of utter destruction. It looked like a war zone. Clean up had started and the suburb was packed with the householders and many volunteers throwing out the furniture and removing the copious amounts of mud. The street was piled with rubbish along both sides. The house had been inundated to the ceiling and most things lost (It is however an office and we are insured - many uninsured lost everything)

Saturday and Sunday
Volunteers were everywhere. When we rolled up to our Chelmer office at 10am Sunday there were 30 volunteers ripping out the plaster board and inbuilt furniture. They did in a few hours what would normally takes days. After a few hours they moved onto another house down the road to do the same.

Monday after (today)
An important part in  the recovery of QLD will be getting businesses and tourism in particular back to normal as quickly as possible. A huge credit to all at FCL for making this happen. Any suggestions in how we could improve on our support from Brisbane during a crisis like this would be welcome.

The FCL Foundation will be coordinating the raising of funds for FCL people and others hit by this flood. FCL itself will be donating a minimum of $2m to the Government appeal by  donating $10 a ticket or package. Hopefully with a lot of tickets sold now to the end of February we can get that up to $3+m and perhaps another million or so from customers. Overseas countries will be best to donate to the foundation.


  1. One week, during cleaning, the team leader noticed that the client's dog was behaving strangely. The dog barked at the team leader until the team leader started following him. The dog finally led the team leader to the customer who had an accident and fell on the front lawn. The team helped the client inside. All offers refused to contact the family or the ambulance.
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