Lockyer Valley communities cut off from civilisation

MORE than 250 people living in the tiny hamlets of My Sylvia and Junction View in the Lockyer Valley have been completely cut off from civilisation for nearly a week.

The level of destruction caused by floodwater which tore though the region earlier this week is unprecedented.

The damage bill is expected to exceed $100 million.

Kilometres of roads, bridges, electricity and communication infrastructure, prime farming land and landmarks no longer exist.

A stretch of about 20 kilometres of Mt Sylvia Road from the intersection of Junction View and Lefthand Branch Roads has been completely washed away.

The road is the main link to Gatton.

Tenthill Creek which runs through the region has cut a chasm measuring about 500 metres wide and about 20 metres deep.

Junction View residents Chloe Kennedy (left) and Peter Coleman standing beside what is left of a 20 kilometre section of Mount Sylvia Road.
Junction View residents Chloe Kennedy (left) and Peter Coleman standing beside what is left of a 20 kilometre section of Mount Sylvia Road. Bev Lacey

The area is only accessible by helicopter.

The Chronicle was the first media outlet to visit the region after chartering a helicopter through Heliwest Toowoomba.

We talked exclusively with affected residents.

Mt Sylvia disaster co-ordinator Julia Crust said the level of destruction caused by the floodwater was simply staggering.

"The level of devastation is totally unbelievable," Mrs Crust said.

"It has to be seen to be actually believed. The area is simply unrecognisable.

"The level of destruction caused by this flood is 10 times worse than which occurred in 2011," she said.

Mrs Crust said residents had been communicating with each other via hand-held walkie-talkies.

"The area has not had electricity or telephones lines for about a week," she said.

"They, along with all the power poles, have been washed away.

"We have been told we will be without any electricity or communication lines for at least six weeks."

Mrs Crust said the Lockyer Valley Regional Council was in the process of airlifting generators into the area.

"We have asked people to go from property to property to drain petrol from anything they can to power them," she said.

"That is how dire the situation is.

"There have also been regular daily airdrops of medication, food and supplies from Gatton.

Mrs Crust said authorities do not know where to begin on the path to recovery given the total devastation of the area.

"Everyone is very anxious to say the least," she said.

"The old timers living in the area have said they have never seen anything like this before.

"We do not know where to begin as we are in unchartered territory."

Residents told The Chronicle that more than 1400 mm was recorded during the rain event.

Topics:  floods 2013, isolated, lockyer valley, mt sylvia, toowoomba



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