Flash Flood Damage-Boireann www.boireannwinery.com.au

By the time the Brisbane River had broken its banks in several places the rain and flood devastation wrung on Queensland’s agricultural crops had been apparent for up to two months.

The Australian Wine Trade Flood Relief Raffle went up on writer Tyson Stelzer’s site www.clearaboutwine.com.au last Thursday, January 13 after a groundswell of Australian wine businesses wished to support flood victims in principle but also their fellow wine producers who had lost crop.

And it became a no-brainer that wine grape crops would be lost after such incessant rain as the grape vines tried to turn off the torrents around their roots and the pelting rain, fog and mist that lashed leaves and developing bunches daily for so long.

Here is an update on the raffle progress from Tyson Stelzer’s site:

The plan is to raise a donation to the Queensland Premier’s Flood Relief Appeal and other similar appeals through a wine raffle in a similar format to the Australian Wine Trade Bushfire Raffle of 2009.

Winemakers, importers, distributors: We would appreciate donations of raffle prizes. Perhaps a case of wine or two, a special bottle, a membership or event ticket? Please send the full name and retail value of your pledge to us by Monday January 31 but do not send wine yet (it will be sent directly to winners later).

Value of pledges to date: Day 1: More than $35,000. Day 2: More than $100,000,Day 5: More than $135,000 (from more than 180 companies); and on day 2 Fosters Ltd donated $500,000 via the Queensland Premier’s Appeal.

Retailers (online and shop front): We would like your help to sell tickets. This is a simple process as tickets will be generated and emailed automatically. Bank and foreign exchange costs will be covered. To date 46 retailers will be selling tickets when they go on sale on February 4 until March 4.

Within the wine industry there is a call to assess the levels of crop loss as there is every possibility of likeminded grape producers in other parts of Australia prepared to donate grapes to assist their Queensland colleagues who have seen the years’ work go down the river.

The flooding of Brisbane last week has been the most devastating in living memory; more particularly as the population and housing growth has doubled since the last memorable flood of 1974 which inundated Brisbane in exactly the same areas. The flood proofing dam-Wivenhoe has failed.

Elsewhere in Southern Queensland it is obvious now that urban development has run rampant in areas which were flood plains before white settlement; and over centuries river courses have changed little despite what is put in their path. In today’s case-housing.

In the suburbs inundated, a veritable volunteer army turned out to assist the clean-up last weekend, so much so that after passing the 25,000 mark, bus transport ran out. So some volunteers went home empty handed but most just turned up in areas heavily affected with gloves, boots, squeeze-gees and water blasters like the writer.

Our group headed for Sherwood Road, adjacent to the Rocklea wholesale fruit markets where a massive clean was under way to get back in business.

Our cleaning property was 36 Melbourne Street, Rocklea, the mid-40s owner Simon was still in shock over this disaster. His double story cottage had flooded one metre over the upper floor and we were in the process of removing everything and water jetting the black mud from walls, and sludge from floors.

The debris from floods take on their own stench. In this case the mud was black as the surrounding paddocks are black soil, although the visuals of the Brisbane River in flood were very much a red, swollen torrent in turmoil.

Ruined Possessions at 36 Melbourne Street-authors IPhone pic

The flood smell is penetrating: and I can still smell it subliminally days later in the back of my nose. It’s a cross of a strange array of country smells; rotting timber, fungus, cow-yard, wet earth, horse urine, dog poo, even decomposing carcass. So for the thousands who aided the clean-up this was their background aroma for several days, and some for weeks.

For the volunteers, meal support was organised on the Twitter hashtag #bakedrelief or www.bakedrelief.org having thousands of hits from day one.

Currently from the website: Baked Relief – ADOPT A FAMILY is now taking registrations from people who are prepared to provide a meal once a week {possibly for up to a year} to a family who has lost their home to the floods.

The groundswell of wine industry support is reaching far and wide. Steve Flamsteed (born in Toowoomba where two residents lost their lives in a flash flood), winemaker at Giant Steps, Yarra Valley tweeted that next Friday’s Pizza and Pint night in the restaurant (21 January) would be fully subscribed.

In Whistler BC, the flood relief function at the Crystal Lounge will be held February 10th at 8:30 pm.

For further donations: http://www.clearaboutwine.com.au/wp/index.php/the-australian-wine-trade-flood-relief-raffle/

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