The good news for Australia: It got to celebrate New Years first! The bad news: A huge portion of the country is underwater. Prime Minister Julia Gillard today promised government assistance to the roughly 200,000 people that have been affected by a huge flood in the northeastern state of Queensland, the LA Times reports. Rivers in the region started overflowing last week, flooding or isolating 22 towns and covering an area bigger than Texas.
Military aircraft dropped supplies on the area, as residents either evacuated or stockpiled food to wait out the waters. Each family that has been affected will be eligible for a $1,000 compensation payment per adult, and $400 per child, Gillard said, as she toured one evacuation center. “It was just a sea of water,” one evacuee told her. “I thought the beach would never come to our house.” (Read more Australia stories.)