Brisbane surveys the damage from deadly flood
Thousands of Brisbane residents have returned to check on their homes for the first time since the Queensland capital was hit by the biggest flood in decades.
The death toll from the floods sweeping the state's south-east rose to 15 during the day. One of the deaths involved a Brisbane man who was swept into a storm drain when he entered the fast-flowing waters.
After the Brisbane River peaked at 14ft overnight, residents awoke to face a clean-up operation that has been likened to post-war reconstruction.
More than 50 suburbs across Australia's third largest city have been swamped with dirty, muddy water and 11,900 homes have been hit by serious flood damage. Another 14,000 homes are partially flooded.
In some of the worst hit areas, residents who had yesterday fled to high ground with as many possessions as they could fit into their cars returned to survey the damage.
On a street in Milton, in the city's inner-west, one woman wept as she toured her waterlogged home.
Jan Dalton had found her diary, birthday cards from her late father and books that she planned to hand on to her children floating in the waters outside her house.
"The water's been up to chest height inside," she said.
"Everything's wet and muddy, the feeling is totally surreal, I feel like I am on a movie set but this is my life."
Elsewhere in the city, residents took boats to check on their low-lying properties and carry in food and fuel to neighbours who had been isolated by the floods. Many had seen the flood water reach the roofs of their homes over the past 24 hours and most spoke of the shock of seeing their urban street disappear under several feet of water.
As the flood level slowly began to drop, the threat to the public's health persisted. But warnings that the floodwaters now contain dangerous levels of chemicals and sewage - and even a sighting of a bull shark in a city street - failed to deter some locals from wading in and even swimming.
In some parts of the city police patrolled the waterways in search of looters, after three men were arrested for trying to steal boats.
Outside Brisbane, the grim task of recovering bodies from towns almost obliterated by the torrent of water that rushed down the Lockyer Valley from Toowoomba began in earnest.
Warning that the death toll from the floods would rise as the search continued in the devastated towns of Grantham and Murphy's Creek, Anna Bligh, the premier, broke down in tears.
"As we weep for what we have lost, remember we are Queenslanders, the people they breed tough," she said.
More than 70 people remain missing and grave fears are held for at least 11.
Ms Bligh also warned that some of the homes damaged by the flood will no longer be habitable.
"We are going to see damage and destruction in the CBD, parks and schools and the homes of people we know and love.
"We now face a reconstruction task of post-war proportions."