City heart reels from disaster
IPSWICH’S CBD and the business people who rely on it for their livelihood yesterday started on the determined road to recovery.
Mayor Paul Pisasale yesterday visited Limestone Street where the clean-up started the minute the floodwaters had receded.
“The water's going down quickly and the support of the community has been absolutely fantastic,” Cr Pisasale said.
“The council is going to put all its resources into the clean-up. We've got some elderly people who have been displaced so it's time we prioritised our seniors.
“What I'd like to say to people is, please be patient. If the grass in your park is a little bit longer, if you see a bit of the council not doing what you think they should be doing, please be understanding because the highest priority is to get people back into their homes and their lives back to normal.
“We're their council and their council will look after them.
“We had the Prime Minister here today and it was wonderful that the Prime Minister has made a commitment on behalf of the rest of Australia to make sure that the money that Ipswich needs for its roads and its bridges is there.
“That is an enormous help for us; that will take away any budgetary strain.”
“The Prime Minister walked around the streets and she saw the tears and she saw the sense of pride in the community.”
Cr Pisasale, who has maintained a hectic pace visiting flood sites, answering phone calls and talking to the media, admitted he was deeply affected by the floods.
“It's because it's about people,” he said. “There are people who have lost everything. The businesses, they're not just businesses, they're people.”
Nearby, Ben's Kebabs owner Hamid Azad was trying to come to terms with his devastated shop.
It and surrounding stores are coated in a thin mud that might look good on someone's face but not on normally pristine counters.
“I'm closing up now and going home so I can get my mind together,” Mr Azad said, tapping his temple. “When you see this you don't expect it. I'll be back here at 6am tomorrow.”
Next door at Big Dad's Pies, franchisees Fiona and Steve Grant were doing their best to stay positive – against all odds.
“We gave up our Christmas holidays to repaint the walls and re-plaster the ceiling. We wanted to start the new year with a new look and this is it,” Mrs Grant said as a rural fire brigade member hosed the footpath. “This is way not was we expected.
“We spent Monday afternoon pushing cabinets up the street and into the first level of the adjoining shopping centre. They're all on their sides now. We thought we were doing the right thing.
“We've got the Big Dad's at St Ives too and that's completely underwater so we're doing well.
“You have to smile; what else can you do?”
Mr Grant said: “We started here in September 2008 so we got flooded two months later.
“We should have gone to the beach instead of spending the holidays here.”
The couple said they were planning to move, especially since it heard Coles would not reopen across from them.
Further up Limestone Street, Bill Rawlings at the dry cleaner was keeping up his spirits.
“We're just getting on with it. We got through it before and we'll do it again,” Mr Rawlings said. “It's a major upheaval but you just move on. We'll start up again as soon as we can.”