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Clinging to life

SPECIAL BOND: A special bond was formed between Lucy Connelly and Rod Hartwig when he plucked her to safety from a tree.
SPECIAL BOND: A special bond was formed between Lucy Connelly and Rod Hartwig when he plucked her to safety from a tree. Sue Harris

WHEN Queensland Governor Penelope Wensley asked Eidsvold's Lucy Connolly about the five hours she spent clinging to a paulownia tree, waiting to be rescued from floodwaters, she heard about Country and Western songs and prayers.

Lucy is alive to tell the tale thanks to the efforts of her neighbour, Rod Hartwig.

The North Burnett Regional Council worker said the only warning she had of the impending disaster was when she heard her toilet gurgling about 12.30am.

Ms Connolly called her parents for help and they phoned Mr Hartwig.

She fled the house but was swept over the property fence, across the road and into a paulownia plantation. Many of the trees were flattened but she finally found an upright one and clung to it.

The 29-year-old woman shared the tree with a snake and watched as other animals washed past until about 5.30am last Monday.

"There were animals, cows and cars floating past me," she said.

"I just felt a feeling of calm. I did a lot of praying and thought about all the things I still wanted to do."

Mr Hartwig, 63, said he searched for Ms Connolly on a tractor but the water was too high, so he loaded his boat and waited with son Graham until about 5am.

They arrived at Ms Connolly's house to find it completely submerged and they feared the worst.

But they saw the flashing light of an emergency beacon washed up from the John Goleby Weir 3km away.

They headed towards it and soon heard Ms Connolly's calls for help.  




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