Residents recover as Australian flood's ease | Connect Asia

Residents recover as Australian flood's ease

Residents recover as Australian flood's ease

Updated 30 January 2013, 15:39 AEDT

The flood emergency across Australia appears to be over for most of Queensland and New South Wales.

While the town of Grafton in New South Wales experienced a near record flood, its levy held, but only just.

Hundreds of homes and rural properties remain flooded and communities are cut off by road and rail, making it difficult to re-supply stores and supermarkets.

In Queensland, it was not the most comfortable evening for about 1000 Bundaberg residents who spent the night in emergency accomodation after floodwaters forced them to evacuate their homes.

But at least they were safe as Bundaberg suffered its worst flood ever recorded. Areas along the northern side of the Burnett River have been the worst affected.

Correspondent: Martin Cuddihy

Speakers: Chantel Dunbar, Bundaberg resident; Yvonne Hill, Bundaberg resident

MARTIN CUDDIHY: On the southern outskirts of Bundaberg, a shed is home to more than 200 people.

Inside is row after row of inflatable mattresses, interspersed with the occasional porta-cot.

Industrial fans try to keep the humidity at bay, while outside towels dry on a makeshift clothesline.

CHANTEL DUNBAR: Since we came to the evacuation centre today everyone has been more than helpful and just going out of their way to do anything they can to help people adjust.

MARTIN CUDDIHY: Chantel Dunbar sits on a mattress next to her two boys. Across the river her home is underwater and she's thinking about what she would have saved if there'd been more time.

CHANTEL DUNBAR: All the photos, all the memories, years of kindergarten pictures, kindergarten drawings, kindergarten photos. Gosh, what's replaceable - what's not?

MARTIN CUDDIHY: What one thing that you keep thinking about?

CHANTEL DUNBAR: How to start again. How long does it take to pick yourself back up and start again?

MARTIN CUDDIHY: At the evacuation centre volunteers from charities are helping where they can. Some people are sleeping in their only clothes. Others sit in plastic chairs staring into the distance.

About eight older people who've had to flee the rising waters are still on the beds from their aged care facility.

Yvonne Hill has spent a second night in emergency accommodation. The home she shares with her grandchildren is close to the water. She's expecting the worst.

YVONNE HILL: I think it got washed away. We really got flooded, hit by the floods. Our three - well, we had three cars too in the family and they're all gone down the river. Devastating flood. We only had probably half an hour to go, to get things organised.

MARTIN CUDDIHY: If you only had half an hour, how can you prioritise what to get out of the house?

YVONNE HILL: We've sort of got a living area underneath too, so everything from underneath came up. The water was probably waist deep by that time when we were trying to get everything up, all of what, you know like washing machines, all the white goods, all still floating around down there, mmm.

MARTIN CUDDIHY: Did you think about photos or family memories?

YVONNE HILL: No, they were all upstairs mainly, yeah.

MARTIN CUDDIHY: And do you think they're still there?

YVONNE HILL: No. Even the school kids' clothes, their books we've spent hundreds of dollars on have probably gone out to sea now.

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