Townsville: 'People are going out of their way to help'
OUR long-time Big Rigs correspondent in the Far North filed this report from his flood-ridden home town.
FLOODS which covered much of Townsville with water were described as a once in 100 year event and that was an apt description.
I have lived in Townsville all my life and have witnessed numerous tropical cyclones and floods.
In my opinion the only event which was more severe than these floods was Cyclone Althea which struck Townsville in 1971.
My most vivid memory of Althea was watching through the window from a back bedroom at my parents home in Gulliver.
One of those old wooden toilets which everybody had in their back yards was picked up by the winds and blew over a house next door.
It landed four metres from my window in our yard and smashed like match sticks.
These floods produced rain for many days and made driving around town very difficult.
Many shops including cafes, supermarkets, even Hungry Jacks, Macdonalds and other businesses were closed.
IGA supermarkets were open at various times but it was hard to find any with bread, milk and other essentials. Trucks with vital supplies could not get through and many shelves were empty.
On February 1, my daughter who lives in the Hermit Park suburb was told by SES volunteers to evacuate her unit which she did and stayed with us.
On Sunday February 3 the rain was heavy and during a short break in showers my daughter returned to her unit to pick up some clothes.
She had to park her vehicle blocks away and walk in water to her unit and noticed a wheelchair bound neighbour was still there.
He needed some food which she gave him and she made a few phone calls and within an hour a Rural Fire Brigade pulled up and took him a phone charger.
A well-wisher then paddled up in a canoe and dropped off some more food and a doctor and her boyfriend also arrived with some more.
Some dinghies were getting around the streets with various items for those in need.
People were going out of their way to help each other.
I received phone calls from all over the country about our well being and a friend who works at the Townsville Airport rang and said it had been closed for two days.
More than 15,000 homes were without electricity and the Ross River Day, which was at 63% capacity a week before, had risen to more than 200% and the gates needed to be opened.
I live 300m from the upper fresh water reaches of Ross River near Gleeson's Weir and police arrived ordering onlookers to go home.
At 8.30pm the dam spillway gates were opened to their full setting and would release up to 2000 cubic metres of water per second out of the dam. That would last until 6am.
Homes in the suburbs of Rosslea, Hermit Park, Railway Estate, Townsville City, Oonoonba, Idalia, Cluden, West End, Rowes Bay, Garbutt, Aitkenvale, Cranbrook, Currajong, Mysterton, Pimlico, Mundingburra, Douglas, Annandale, Kirwan and Thuringowa Central and South Townsville were at risk.
I was never at risk but am fortunate to live in a higher suburb but getting out is difficult.