Business owners in Brisbane are beginning the enormous clean up operation as a result of the floodwaters which saw the Brisbane River break its banks.
The Brisbane City Council says it will initially focus on restoring power and running water to homes, clearing and reopening main and local roads around the city and rebuilding traffic infrastructure.
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It will then turn its attention to assisting residents and business owners return to the 14,972 homes and businesses that were completely flooded, and 18,025 partially flooded.
The council has released a special guide for business owners returning to their premises, urging them to ensure electrical wiring is safe before they begin the clean up.
Most businesses are expecting to start reopening or at least returning to start cleaning up on January 17 or 18.
But before that can happen, businesses are facing the dilemma of whether to keep paying staff who are unable to return to work, and what to do with staff who can come to work but whose jobs are temporarily underwater.
Some companies with flood-affected business premises are advising employees to work from home where they can, or giving them time off to attend to their families and homes.
As Queensland come to grips with the disaster, the Australian Bankers’ Association is urging flood victims to take advantage of emergency relief packages being offered by banks.
ABA chief executive Steven Münchenberg says flood victims worried about their financial situation, either now or in the future, should contact their banks as soon as possible to discuss what assistance may be available.
Assistance can include:
- Deferring home loan repayments for up to three months.
- Restructuring business loans without incurring fees.
- Giving credit card holders an emergency credit limit increase.
- Refinancing personal loans at a discounted fixed rate.
- Waiving interest rate penalties if term deposits are drawn early.
- Deferring monthly repayments on equipment finance facilities for three months.
Meanwhile, a public inquiry expert has called for a Royal Commission on the Queensland floods, a move supported by Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh is yet to support the call, preferring to focus her efforts on the immediate reaction to the flood disaster.