Local News

Raleigh woman survives perilous Australia floods

Posted January 17, 2011 9:54 p.m. EST
Updated January 17, 2011 11:14 p.m. EST

— A Raleigh woman vacationing in Australia during an historic flood is safe Monday, bracing for more rain while rushing waters claim dozens of lives in what emergency crews have described as an "inland tsunami."

Heavy rains caused by a La Nina weather system have poured from the skies along Australia's eastern coastline, unleashing flash floods that have claimed many lives, and washed away homes and businesses, leaving nothing but debris in its wake.

The death toll continues to rise as the nation prepares for more rain in its southern regions. 

Jean Trott of Raleigh flew into Brisbane, one of the hardest hit areas, a week ago. 

"As you can imagine, I could see just water everywhere. It was pouring down rain," Trott said. "So many of these people, they have no flood insurance. So they've lost everything."

Trott said media coverage of the flood's impact does not begin to tell the whole story. Video shows horrific images of death and devastation, but the smell is something that cannot captured for an audience across the world.

"The putrid smell of the flood waters – that's what everyone is talking about," she said. 

The smell is the result of severe water contamination, just one of the floodwater's many dangers.

"Not only are there sharp objects... Australia has very poisonous snakes, and so the water is full of snakes," Trott said. She added that she's even heard reports of a shark swimming through the streets of downtown Brisbane.

Trott managed to leave Brisbane before floodwaters forced the airport there to close, and she is currently 1,200 miles away in Melbourne, where rain is expected soon.

"There's a lot more to come. They're calling this the 200 year flood," Trott said.

There are two weeks left in Australia's rainy season.