Broncos, Titans lend a hand
PLAYERS and officials from the Brisbane Broncos and Gold Coast Titans hit the streets of Ipswich yesterday to give the city a helping hand and to boost morale.
And for the few that have ties with the city and the Lockyer Valley, it was personal.
Gold Coast Titan Nathan Friend's parents live in Grantham, a town devastated by the recent disaster, but fortunately they were out of the area when the flood hit.
Arriving at the St Ives Shopping Centre in Goodna with more than 100 Gold Coast residents about 10.30am, Friend was later bussed away with team mates to do clean-up work at the Pan Pacific Peace Gardens in Redbank.
Friend said he was keen to help clean up his parents' house, but with police still cordoning off the town as they search for survivors he said helping in Ipswich was the next best thing.
“I went there on the weekend to see mum and dad on for the first time, to give them a big cuddle and check out the devastation,” he said.
“I had a few of the boys lined up for the weekend just past to help clean up at my parents, but it wasn't too be.
“It's good to help where we can.”
Later that afternoon Brisbane Broncos players, with Ipswich legend Allan Langer and coach Ivan Henjak in tow, visited the evacuation centre at the Ipswich Showground.
For some residents like Donna Nettleton, whose Churchill house and its contents were completely destroyed by the floods, the Broncos visit was a massive boost to morale.
“This has given me the biggest smile I've had all week,” she said after a photo with Langer.
Langer said he and the players, including Justin Hodges, Jharal Yow Yeh and Josh Hoffman, jumped at the chance to visit Ipswich.
Langer said the floods hit close to home, with the water just avoiding his mum's house at Sadliers Crossing.
“You have to feel for the people; you just can't imagine what they are feeling or what they are experiencing. It's just very sad,” he said.
Justin Hodges said he was grateful to help where he could.
“People here have been through a lot of heartache, so it's good to come out here and give them a bit of a smile, even if it's just for a short time,” he said.
“It will take a long time to rebuild, but the response of Queenslanders has been great. It's a beautiful state.”
He agreed the disaster would make it even harder for New South Wales to win this year's State of Origin.
“This will be in the back of our minds for State of Origin. We'll be playing with even more pride and passion,” he said.
East Ipswich resident Dwayne Williamson, who has been staying at the evacuation centre since losing his home in the floods last week, said the visit buoyed his spirits.
“We came up here today with frowns, now we've started smiling for the first time in a long time,” Mr Williamson said.