Marnell Fuels owner Marty Warburton says the longer people cannot live in Grantham, and businesses cannot operate, the harder it is to rebuild.
Marnell Fuels owner Marty Warburton says the longer people cannot live in Grantham, and businesses cannot operate, the harder it is to rebuild. David Nielsen

Grantham's slow road to recovery

GRANTHAM was once a thriving Lockyer Valley community; today it resembles little more than a ghost town.

A drive through the town’s main street reveals the heartache and devastation caused when a wall of water slammed into the town on January 10 – killing 17 people.

Cars which were swept away with the torrent, and covered in mud and silt, still litter paddocks, while several gutted homes bear fluorescent pink signs warning they are structurally unsound.

Children’s toys and empty photo frames, all mud-encrusted, are just some of the possessions that litter the town almost two months on.

Flowers and a family portrait hang from a tree in Anzac Ave to remember three locals who were swept to their deaths when their brick home was ripped apart by the water’s fury.

The memorial, and a few bricks stacked together, is all that remains of their family home.

It’s a stark reminder of the tragic events that left the close-knit community heartbroken.

There are, however, tiny glimpses of a town trying to recover.

As you approach Grantham from the east, a low-set Queenslander is raised ready for removal to a nearby site.

Owner Bob Meredith is one of only a few people who has received an insurance payout and is trying to restore order to his life.

“This is my home. It might not look like it anymore, but I’m going to rebuild,” Mr Meredith said.

“It’s structurally sound, it just had to be completely gutted inside.”

Marty Warburton is the owner of Grantham’s only fuel station, now a gutted shell. He said progress in the town had been unnecessarily halted by red tape.

“Nothing has changed in this town since that Monday night when the sun went down and they left us for dead,” Mr Warburton said.

“I honestly thought by now we would have some direction or at the very least know where we are headed.

“We need some progress and we want stability.”

Mr Warburton, a former Gatton Shire councillor of eight years, was elected by residents to chair Grantham’s reconstruction committee.

“Everyone is really frustrated. No-one is telling us what’s going on and insurance companies just aren’t helping,” he said.

The delay in getting insurance claims processed was one of the community’s biggest frustrations, Mr Warburton said.

Many residents are waiting on insurers to authorise the demolition of their homes, homes that have already been condemned by assessors.

Allan Marshall lost his father, Bruce, in the floods. His own home in Harris St was pushed off its stumps and now lies in the middle of the road – where it’s been for almost eight weeks.

“Until we get word from our insurance company, it has to stay there,” he said.

“People will just have to keep driving around it.”

Mr Warburton said there was initially plenty of hope that the town could be rebuilt.

“I still believe that we can, but every week that goes by and people can’t live here, that businesses are shut, well, the death of this place gets that bit closer.”



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