Brazilian Mudslide, Australian Flooding Jan 12 2011


From CBC:

The death toll following mudslides north of Rio de Janeiro rose to 464 Thursday (Jan 13) as survivors of the Brazilian disaster scrambled to reach neighbours trapped under layers of mud.

Wednesday's slides blasted through the mountainous region, destroying homes and businesses and sweeping away cars and trucks.

Roads and bridges were also washed away, making it nearly impossible for emergency vehicles to reach the area. Survivors were left to dig through the mud with shovels and bare hands.

Officials said 210 people had died in the city of Teresopolis. Witnesses described hearing a tremendous rumble as tonnes of earth above their neighbourhood slid down a sheer granite rock face there at about 3 a.m. Wednsday.

"We were like zombies, covered in mud, in the dark, digging and digging," said Geisa Carvalho, 19. Cars sit in debris in Teresopolis, 65 kilometres north of Rio de Janeiro, on Wednesday. Cars sit in debris in Teresopolis, 65 kilometres north of Rio de Janeiro, on Wednesday. (Roberto Ferreira/Agencia O Dia/Associated Press)

The power was out, but by lightning flashes they could see a torrent of mud and water rushing just metres from their home -- and the remnants of their neighbours' houses that were swept far down a hill.


The flooding has been on our minds, but is so spread out that it is beyond the GCP technology, which requires focus. A suggestion comes from Michael Duggan, who writes

"I would use an event that encapsulates ther Australians spirit of resistance and the selflessness demonstrated by so many. Here is a news article of a 13 yr old lad who died saving his 10 year old brother."

From Associated Press:

BRISBANE -- Inch by inch, block by block, floods consumed Australia's third-largest city, creeping across suburban yards Wednesday and streaming through downtown streets darkened by power outages and largely emptied of people.

The waters poured into Brisbane, topping traffic lights on some streets, after marching across Queensland state for weeks. Roads shut throughout the city, and people moved about in kayaks, rowboats and even on surfboards. Boats torn from their moorings floated down an engorged river.

Residents of the city's low-lying areas headed in the thousands for higher ground, while others chose to ride it out as the waters approached their expected peak early Thursday morning.

The flooding, which has killed 22 people since late November, has submerged dozens of towns -- some three times -- and left an area the size of Germany and France combined under water. Highways and rail lines have been washed away in the disaster, which is shaping up to Australia's costliest ever.

One tale has particularly transfixed the country: a 13-year-old boy caught in the flood who told strangers to save his 10-year-old brother first and died as a result.

Jordan and Blake Rice were in the car with their mother, Donna, when a wall of water pummeled Toowoomba on Monday. After the torrent of water knocked one rescuer over, another man managed to reach the car, The Australian newspaper reported. At Jordan's insistence, he pulled Blake out first, according to a third brother, Kyle.

"Courage kicked in, and he would rather his little brother would live," the 16-year-old told the newspaper. Jordan and his mother were washed away before the men were able to get back to them. By Wednesday, Jordan's name was among the top 10 most used terms on Twitter, as a wave of tweets hailed him as a "true hero" the Queensland floods.

The GCP event was set for the 24 hour GCP day, following precedents for similar disasters. The result is Chisquare 87371.71 on 86400 df for p = 0.010 and Z = 2.330.

Mudslides Jan 12 2011

It is important to keep in mind that we have only a tiny statistical effect, so that it is always hard to distinguish signal from noise. This means that every "success" might be largely driven by chance, and every "null" might include a real signal overwhelmed by noise. In the long run, a real effect can be identified only by patiently accumulating replications of similar analyses.

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