BUNDABERG “City of Charm” has become city of heartbreak and devastation since six mini tornados and ex tropical cyclone Oswald hit last weekend.
Small areas of Bundaberg are flood-prone and people in those areas had time to move at least some of their belongings, but the record-breaking flood took most by surprise. We recorded 20 inches (530mm) of rain.
The river broke its banks and the fast moving (40 knots or 75 kph) current very quickly engulfed North Bundaberg. Emergency, mandatory evacuations were called.
The public hospital was evacuated, with about 90 patients airlifted to Brisbane.
Two nursing homes were evacuated.
People in North Bundaberg were isolated as roads and bridges closed and about 1500 people were winched from rooftops by 14 helicopters and 2 nighthawk army helicopters equipped with night vision capabilities worked through the night.
People who had never been flooded before were inundated. Those who moved treasures to higher parts of the house, based on previous floods, lost all.
As the river peaked and receded, people on the southern side of the river began their heart-wrenching clean-up. Many had only the clothes they were wearing and thoughts of recovering anything from the mud quickly vanished. A “mud army” of volunteers helped to throw out all possessions and hose out the horrible mud.
Roads were washed away.
One road has a 2 metre (6 foot) deep, 100 metre long sinkhole.
Sewerage and plumbing lines are broken in many places.
Power lines are down.
Many houses were lifted from their foundations and carried distances by the current.
One was found on a road intersection, rammed into a light pole.
Heaps of broken, tangled timber and sheets of iron are all that is left of some houses.
Cars and trucks are mangled messes.
In some places, the road moves under foot.
The main traffic bridge, connecting North Bundaberg to Bundaberg has a gaping hole across the two lanes.
The other bridge is not open.
The rail bridge is closed because the lines are buckled.
The whole area is a dangerous disaster zone. Only the army and officials are allowed in. Those evacuated from North Bundy do not know the fate of their homes. While it is hoped that some areas might be able to be seen by the occupants within a few days, it will be in a guided group for a limited time only. It could be months before North Bundaberg is open and years before it is back to ‘normal’. Bundaberg has an enormous task of rebuilding all the infrastructure.
Please pray . . .
7,500 people were evacuated.
About 5000 are still in evacuation centres or cared for in private homes.
Over 3,000 houses and 300 businesses were submerged.
Many houses were completely destroyed and many others have lost all their possessions.
Many are elderly and the trauma is a dreadful strain.
I should add that while Bundaberg was undoubtedly the hardest hit, almost all of Queensland was badly affected, as well as northern New South Wales. Many inland towns and communities were badly affected, including Gayndah and Mundubbera, and many suffered crop and livestock losses as well as flood damage to their homes. Brisbane and Ipswich, inundated two years ago braced for the worst but escaped with much less damage than expected. Laidley and Logan suffered badly.
I would also add that we live in a high and dry area and haven’t been affected in any way – except for the heartache for friends, some of whom live over North Bundy. Hopefully, they will be allowed a brief visit tomorrow to see the condition of their homes. It was just announced that twelve houses will have to be demolished and thirty more are in need of very extensive repairs.