By ALEX NELSON
It is not just eastern Australia that is at risk of severe – and sometimes repetitive – flooding.
The record shows that Central Australia has also been seriously impacted by these periods, and we are likely to be facing one now.
Yet there is still no decisive action of flood protection for the town.
The authorities are likely to be reacting to events rather than preparing for them, which has always been the case in the past.
The Bureau of Meteorology recognises three triple La Niña periods on record since 1900: These were 1954-57, 1973-76, and 1998-2001.
The damage and disruption caused by widespread flooding on these occasions have left long-lasting legacies, especially for transport infrastructure:
• The isolation of the new Eastside suburb from the main part of Alice Springs in the mid 1950s, including rescues and fatalities of people crossing the Todd River in flood, prompted the construction of the footbridge next to the Wills Terrace Causeway, completed in 1957. The footbridge was intended to be a temporary structure eventually to be replaced by a main road bridge.
• The persistent flooding of the Todd River in the mid 1970s finally did prompt the construction of the Stott Terrace Bridge, completed in 1978.
• There were extensive repairs and reconstruction of low level bridges crossing the Hugh, Finke and Palmer rivers on the south Stuart Highway.
• The frequent long-lasting washouts of the original Central Australian Railway also prompted the construction of the Tarcoola to Alice Springs standard gauge railway, completed in 1980.
It’s worth noting that these major flood events are of limited duration but tend to have significant long-lasting consequences. They especially have serious economic impacts.
PHOTOS of 1988 flood by Hans Boessem, in the CBD and The Gap.