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Ipswich's CBD business owners one step ahead of Bremer River

CHIPPING IN: A team of volunteers helped clear Hoopers Carpet One before flood waters entered yesterday.
CHIPPING IN: A team of volunteers helped clear Hoopers Carpet One before flood waters entered yesterday. Rob Williams

THE lessons of the 2011 floods were not lost on Ipswich's CBD business owners, who were one step ahead of the rising Bremer River yesterday.

Shops only recently rebuilt were quickly transformed to empty shells as teams of workers arrived early in the morning to clear out stock and fittings.

Hundreds of sandbags arrived at the front of Bob Gartside's mower shop on Bremer St, where dozens of friends also helped move about 120 mowers and other equipment to the plumbing shop further up the hill.

Mr Gartside's shop and adjoining house was obliterated in 2011, with water rising to the top residential level.

Despite yesterday's enormous clear out, he remained hopeful this flood would not leave the same degree of destruction.

He paid tribute to those who spent a public holiday helping him.

"The people who have come to help me this morning have been marvellous, absolutely wonderful," he said.

Around the corner on Brisbane St, there was a race to clear stock from Hoopers Carpet One, where the water level went over the roof two years ago.

In an exhibition of camaraderie typical of the post-flood clean-up of 2011, Hutchinson Builders workers from the Coles construction site allowed the volunteers at the carpet shop to store stock upstairs.

The builders also donated pallets and huge sandbags for the evacuation effort.

The shop's owners were expecting the water to at least reach the floor level of the building by 6pm yesterday.

Although the predicted 15m flood height would have the water lapping below his front door, Brisbane St pharmacy owner Brian North was taking no chances either.

It took months to rebuild his shop after the last flood and, with insurance unable to cover the entire cost of re-establishing the business, he took the trouble of completely emptying the store before this flood could get too close.

With the help of staff and friends, the shop was all but empty by mid-morning.

Mr North said he hoped it would turn out to be just a precautionary measure and that business could resume once the flood threat subsided and stock was returned to the shelves.

"We are definitely more prepared this time around, but I never thought it would flood again this soon, that's for sure," Mr North said.

As water continued to creep into the lower levels of the CBD via Wharf St, police kept a close eye on traffic headed through the CBD, ensuring teams of workers that were crossing between Hoopers and Coles were not in danger of being struck.

At one stage, Councillor Andrew Antoniolli used his old police officer skills to control traffic on Brisbane St.

Topics:  bremer river, ex-tropical cyclone oswald, ipswich cbd


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