There have been confused and angry scenes in the flood-ravaged city of Bundaberg after senior police overruled a plan to allow evacuees to inspect their homes.
This morning, residents were told they would be allowed access to the North Bundaberg exclusion zone at 2pm (AEST) to assess their properties.
However they were stopped less than an hour before they were due to go in.
The decision angered resident John Thone.
“They have no idea how to run this show. They should get somebody in that knows what they’re doing,” he said.
The council says its plan to allow residents back in was overruled by local disaster coordinator Rowan Bond.
Superintendent Bond said residents misunderstood the message and it was still unsafe to return today:
“It’s not a bungle. What it is we’ve adjusted the timing of this based on the expert advice,” he said.
It is hoped residents will be allowed in at 6am tomorrow.
Tensions have been rising in the city, where this morning 1,000 people attended a meeting to hear the latest update from the Bundaberg disaster committee.
They were told the flood damage in the area was dire.
What I’m saying to you (is), the gravity of the situation is dire.Bundaberg council chief executive Peter Byrne
Bundaberg council chief executive Peter Byrne told the meeting that up to 10 properties had been destroyed and another 30 were severely damaged.
He says one home has been washed onto a road.
“We’ve got another one we don’t quite know where it is,” he told the meeting.
“What I’m saying to you (is), the gravity of the situation is dire.”
The meeting heard several roads, the sewerage system and power lines have been washed away and it is not known when they will be repaired.
A council engineer said one of the worst-hit roads had a hole two metres deep and 100 metres long.
A search for bodies in North Bundaberg will be completed this afternoon.
Bundaberg council is calling for volunteers to register if they want to help with the clean-up effort.
Two 15-year-old boys have been caught allegedly looting at Bargara near Bundaberg.
Police say the boys were spotted trying to break into a boat which was washed up on the beach.
Officers found the teenagers a short time later allegedly carrying stolen marine equipment.
They have been charged under the Youth Justice Act.
Meanwhile, Premier Campbell Newman has been touring flood-damaged towns and farms in the North Burnett.
In the town of Gayndah, west of Maryborough, two residents held up signs saying, ‘Go home Newman, you’re seven days late’.
Mr Newman says he understands that people are angry.
“There’s an enormous amount that’s been going on, an enormous amount of damage to sort out,” he said.
“But they’re entitled to be angry and upset, if they’ve lost everything. I’d be upset and angry too.
“I’d want to stand up and shout and scream.”
Mr Newman says it was difficult to help the area while the emergency situation was unfolding in Bundaberg.
“Roads blocked, every available helicopter rescuing people in Bundaberg,” he said.
“That’s the reality of this, there’s a lot that happened.
“But nobody’s been forgotten, no one will be forgotten and we’re going to put all these communities back together, and the recovery effort is now really gearing up.”
Homes, businesses and services in the Wide Bay-Burnett are still without natural gas, after a pipeline was ruptured earlier in the week.
Grant Marcus from the Bundaberg Disaster Co-Ordination Centre says gas customers are trying to find alternatives for cooking and hot water.
“The hospitals use it for instance for just cleaning their linen so they’re hoping to identify ways to get around that,” he said.
“They’ve done that, that’s good but we want to get this gas back so that people can get back to normality.”
Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O’Connell has thanked emergency crews for their quick work in re-opening the Granville Bridge in Maryborough.
The Granville community had been isolated until the bridge was opened to traffic early last night.
Councillor O’Connell says the focus today will be on the Lamington Bridge which links Maryborough with Tinana.
“Again, I’m just asking people please be patient,” he said.
“We’ve got experts and great people working on these projects – it all takes time but we want to make it safe and we want to get that open as quickly as possible.”
Police have responded to concerns that help has been slow to reach flood-hit residents around Baffle Creek and Rosedale, to the north of Bundaberg.
Gladstone Acting Superintendent Michael Sawrey says police have been working with the council on a number of issues.
He says these include the transportation of supplies to flooded communities, welfare checks on the residents of 18 isolated properties and the transportation of six children to hospital for the treatment of sores.
Further south, the clean-up is continuing in Gympie where about 150 homes and businesses were flooded by the swollen Mary River.
The Gympie Chamber of Commerce says most of the flooded businesses were in Mary Street, and community members are pitching in to help those worst affected.
Chamber President Ben Ellingsen says most of the businesses hope to re-open next week.
“A lot of them have basically got their shops cleaned out and waiting for sub-contractors to come in and do some repair work etcetera, so they can start trading within the next week or so,” he said.
“I think people just want to get back in and start trading again and we need to support these guys as much as we can, now more than ever.”
On the Western Downs, several communities remain cut off as flooding in the Condamine River continues.
The main access road to Condamine has been cut off and the Condamine River will rise to at least 12 metres today, leaving transport seriously compromised for several days.
That river level is about three metres below the record floods that forced the evacuation of the town two years ago.
Western Downs Mayor Ray Brown says it could be a week before floodwaters in the region fully subside.
He says Condamine is now cut to the north and east but residents will still be able to travel south to Tara for supplies until floodwaters recede next Thursday.
“Really our residents have done extremely well there’s been no angst in our communities in relation to resupplies of food,” he said.
“I think the angst has been more in relation to movement of transport, kids getting back to school, people getting back to holidays etcetera.”
East of Condamine, businesses in Chinchilla have begun to clean up their shops as floodwaters recede.
Fifteen homes and 34 businesses where inundated when Charley’s Creek peaked earlier this week.
Jason Johnson from Chinchilla Community, Commerce and Industry says the recovery will be a challenge.
“We are lucky enough to be in a reasonably strong economic environment with the gas industry and other primary resource industries,” he said.
“But it’s just the fact that a lot of them were still recovering from those major events in the end of 2010 and start of 2011 and some of them may have scraped though by the skin of their teeth in those situations.”
On the southern border, the towns of Toobeah and Bungunya are isolated because of unprecedented flooding in local creeks and rivers.
The Goondiwindi Regional Council says it will assess today if supplies need to be choppered in to the communities.Topics:
small-business, retail, community-organisations, volunteers, army, floods, environmental-impact, activism-and-lobbying, local-government, programs-and-initiatives, environmental-health, bundaberg-4670, condamine-4416, toowoomba-4350, gympie-4570, maroochydore-4558
First posted February 01, 2013 07:38:10