Divers searching for bodies in Grantham.
Divers searching for bodies in Grantham.

Grantham's full horror revealed

SCORES of police, divers and more than 100 soldiers searched the devastated Grantham community yesterday looking for bodies.

There are fears that more than 40 people have died in the small farming community of only 150. Everyone is missing family and friends.

Bodies, including those of young children, have been recovered. Some were under several metres of rubble, in their homes or along fence lines, hundreds of metres out of town.

Some bodies have washed 30 kilometres down the Lockyer Creek to Brightview.

Dozens of police met at a paddock about five kilometres east of the town, searching through piles of debris, looking for bodies after a resident reported a foul smell coming from the area.

Funeral vans lined the streets of Grantham, escorted out by police convoy, before returning to the devastated community a short time later.

Police divers returned to the area yesterday morning. They were searching through Sandy Creek, below the town's railway bridge, with body bags in their hands.

Excavators were brought in, pulling about 15 battered cars from underneath metres of rumble in the creek.

Police were around every corner. They were searching all of the retrieved vehicles from Sandy Creek - looking for the bodies of the dozens of people who are missing.

Assistant Police Commissioner Stephen Gollschewski yesterday said there were 14 confirmed dead and more than 50 “missing”.

“The reality is we don't know what to expect,” Asst Com Gollschewski said.

“We have now entered our second day of the search and rescue. We have 118 ADF (Australian Defence Force) on the ground helping.

“The army will remain as long as it takes to get the job done.

“They are committed for a week but it could be longer... we just don't know.”

Police sources, and Grantham residents, fear the death toll could exceed 40.

One Grantham local - who fears she has lost everything but hasn't been allowed back to her home - said she knows of plenty of people who are missing.

“There are still dozens of people that haven't been found. After experiencing first hand the ferocity of the water that came through here ... it's unlikely they are still alive,” she said.

“It's awful to say that. They are our friends and family, but we need to face the facts. I just wish everyone would be honest and tell us what's really going on.”

Grantham residents feel many deaths could have been prevented if they were given more notice of the volume and force of water coming.

“We weren't given any warning.

“We had no time to get out,” is what many Grantham residents have said.

Another distraught Grantham local thought bodies being thrown about in floodwaters were trying to swim, until he realised they were dead.

“It's just bloody awful. I could never have imagined this in a million years,” he said.

Kel Wood has lived in Grantham with his wife Michelle for the past 25 years and for the past 14 years with their son, Peter.

But Mr Wood never imagined such a terrible tragedy.

“It's everyone's worst nightmare come true,” Mr Wood said.

“I was at the pub with a few mates when all hell broke loose.

“The ferocity of the water was amazing. The speed the cars were getting pushed along would have been easily about 60kmh.”

Before Mr Wood could comprehend what was happening he was forced to climb onto the roof the pub, the whole time concerned about his wife and son.

The next few minutes of Mr Wood's ordeal will haunt him forever. “We saw a house - with three people inside - get destroyed and washed downstream,” he said.

“You could see the young bloke, his mother and father screaming out for help. There was nothing anyone could do.

“We know the people so to see them get washed downstream like that was just heartbreaking.”

Mr Wood said police still haven't recovered those bodies.

“They haven't been found, but we know that there is no-way they would have survived.”

Mr Wood fought back tears as he relived his terrifying experience but a smile cracked to the surface when he spoke of his wife and son who were rescued from the roof of their highset home and taken to safety.

“We were the lucky ones.”

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