The Prime Minister Julia Gillard puts her arm around Sue Elliot as she and Beryl Harm recount their flood stories.
The Prime Minister Julia Gillard puts her arm around Sue Elliot as she and Beryl Harm recount their flood stories. Claudia Baxter

Gillard visits devastated Grantham

GRANTHAM residents have been told they may be allowed to return to their homes in the flood-ravaged “war zone” as early as tomorrow.

Residents told Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Queensland Premier Anna Bligh yesterday, when they visited the region, that when they do return they want to do it alone.

“We want to be able to grieve and do it in our time and by ourselves,” one resident said.

Ms Gillard and Ms Bligh comforted crying families at the emergency evacuation centre at Grantham State School unaware that down the road another drowned body had been recovered.

The death toll from Monday's devastating disaster in which an eight-metre wall of water came tearing through the community has now claimed 16 people.

Police sources and residents fear the death toll could easily exceed 40. In a farming town of 150 people, everyone will be affected.

Grantham farmer Allan Marshall yesterday spoke with Ms Gillard and said closure for the affected families was their top priority.

“I lost my father on Monday and I've had some closure because they actually found him,” Mr Marshall said.

Mr Marhall's father Bruce Allan Marshall was found dead in his Grantham home, which had been inundated with floodwater.

More than 50 people are feared “missing” in the small community.

State Coroner Michael Barns also visited the region yesterday.

Ms Gillard was escorted through what was the town's main street and said it was “an absolute disaster zone”.

“It's been smashed to smithereens... It really is beyond words how much destruction there is in this tiny community,” Ms Gillard said.

Ms Bligh assured residents there would be help available.

“We are going to rebuild Queensland and these communities... we will do it together,” she said.

“The stories of what people have seen is horrendous.”

Warren Kimlin said residents were worried about their friends and family members who hadn't been seen since Monday.

“When we saw houses float away and cars thrown through the water, we knew people were going to lose their lives,” he said.

“But the thing is, no one is telling us who they have found and who is safe.”



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