Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Queen warmly welcomed in flood city

The Queen and Prince Philip view koalas during a tour of Rain Bank, in Brisbane, Australia (AP)
The Queen smiles as she meets hundreds of people gathered in Brisbane, Australia (AP)
Crowds gather to see the Queen as she arrives for a river cruise in Brisbane, Australia (AP)

The Queen has received a rapturous welcome in Brisbane as she praised the "resilience and courage" of Australians who endured devastating floods earlier this year.

Tens of thousands of well-wishers lined the banks of the Brisbane River as the monarch and Duke of Edinburgh travelled up the waterway that wreaked havoc on the city.

It broke its banks in January and forced thousands to flee their homes during the natural disaster which saw the worst floods in the region for almost 40 years.

An estimated 45,000 spectators lined wharves, jetties and riverside roads to catch a glimpse of the royal couple as they sailed by in Pure Adrenalin - a chartered catamaran - to see for themselves where the rising waters devastated homes and livelihoods.

Their destination was the South Bank district of Brisbane, a mix of apartments, offices, shops, galleries and a feature rainforest area, that suffered 12 million Australian dollars worth of damage in the floods.

During a speech to launch a new water storage facility in the city that will provide irrigation water for the rainforest the Queen praised Australians and the reception she had received.

She said: "Today Prince Philip and I have been greeted with great warmth and good humour in the true Australian spirit and I have seen the fortitude, ingenuity and determination of Brisbane to overcome the setbacks of last January."

In January the rising tide of brown murky water swamped suburbs deluging homes and businesses in Brisbane and forcing people to seek refuge in sports stadiums.

At the height of the flooding three-quarters of the state of Queensland was declared a disaster area, more than 20 were left dead and damage across the region has been estimated at hundreds of millions of Australian dollars.

The monarch added: "We are here to pay tribute to the resilience and courage of Queenslanders who bravely picked up their lives and rebuilt them after a period of great adversity. This morning we travelled along the Brisbane River listening to the stories of when the river broke its banks, and seeing the vast impact of the natural disaster."

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