About 500,000 Cattle Feared Dead After Historic Queensland Floods
Financial losses are estimated at $300 million Australian dollars (about $212 million U.S.).
Days of "unprecedented" rainfall earlier this month led to widespread flooding across the state, causing power outages, damaging roads and buildings and prompting evacuations, according to AccuWeather. Some areas, the Guardian noted, received three years' worth of rain in about a week.
Tragically, farmers in northwest Queensland initially welcomed the rains, as the region had suffered years of back-to-back drought, according to Michael Guerin, the CEO of Queenlands agricultural body AgForce.
"The loss of hundreds of thousands of cattle after five, six, seven years of drought, is a debilitating blow not just to individual farmers, many of whom have lost literally everything, but to rural communities," he said in a press release.
Guerin said the cattle industry could take decades to recover after the entire herds of cattle were wiped out from the extreme weather.
"There is no doubt that this is a disaster of unprecedented proportion," he said. He urged governments of all levels and other agencies to help the farmers with recovery efforts.
Local farmers expressed heartbreak at the sheer scale of destruction caused by the floods, not just for cattle but to other native wildlife and to infrastructure.
"As we begin to access our paddocks we are being confronted with death and devastation at every turn," Kate Hunter, who works at the Gipsy Plains Brahmans farm, wrote in a widely shared Facebook post. "There are kangaroos dead in trees and fences, birds drowned in drifts of silt and debris and our beloved bovine family lay perished in piles where they have been huddling for protection and warmth. This scene is mirrored across the entire region, it is absolutely soul destroying to think our animals suffered like this."
"The true scale of destruction this disaster has left in its wake we are only just beginning to discover," she continued. "The sheer amount of water that engulfed the region has demolished fences, exposed pipelines, destroyed water infrastructure, created huge gullies that were once only small seasonal streams, turned roads into rivers and completely washed dam banks away."
Hunter wrote that graziers around the district are "working tirelessly" to save all the animals they can and also to humanely euthanize the ones that are "sadly beyond saving."
"This is an absolutely gut wrenching time for all of us out here, these cattle are not just our source of income, firstly they are our family and for many of us our life's passion," she continued.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Monday that the federal government will provide an immediate non-gratia payment of $1 million to each of the affected Queensland shires.
"This payment will be for them to use on priorities they deem most urgent—whether that be rate relief for impacted properties, infrastructure, or the disposal of cattle which have perished," he said, as quoted by the Australian Associated Press.
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