Australia Flooding Creates Global Ripple Effect

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As flood waters in Australia have covered an area larger than the state of Texas, Queensland Treasurer Andrew Fraser has called the flooding a "disaster of biblical proportion."

The flooding is also having a global impact on wheat and coal prices. It has turned the city of Rockhampton's streets into raging rivers.

"What's happening here in Rockhampton is - well, I don't think we're going to see it again for another 50 or 100 years," Anna Bligh, Queensland State Premier, said. "That's the nature of this event."

Residents in the coastal city are bracing for the rising waters to peak sometime in the next 24 hours. Hundreds of people have already evacuated. Local police continue to go door-to-door to check to see if anyone's still in their homes.

"We're still expecting that this potentially could be the second or third largest flood that this region has ever known," Rockhampton Mayor Brad Carter said.

The flooding began after heavy rains caused rivers to overflow. Officials said the flooding has affected some 200,000 people.

So far, the rains have eased and, in some places, the water levels have receded.

"The water is not a worry at the moment because as I said, we've marked the pole there and that's how high it's supposed to be when it peaks," Beverley MacNamara, a flood victim, said. "So, if it starts getting higher than that, then we'll start worrying."

One family who surveyed the damage to their home said they were thankful that they were able to escape just in time.

"No, we didn't have a chance," said Rodney Berlin, whose home was destroyed by the flood. "It just come up that quick we just had to pack the kids up and everything up and go."

The flooding has killed at least 10 people during the past two weeks. Now the concern is reports of snakes and crocodiles lurking in the floodwaters.

The impact will be felt far beyond Australia's border. The country supplies half of the world's coking coal for steel making. Roughly 75 percent of the coal fields can't operate due to the flooding.

Australia is also the world's fourth largest exporter of wheat and the flooding is already having an impact on world wheat prices. U.S. futures rose to a 29-month high out of fear that Australian growers won't be able to deliver their harvests.

When combined with cold weather hurting U.S. crops, it could eventually lead to higher prices on the shelves.

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