Ipswich to the rescue
Salvation Army Major Margaret Dobbie and Judy Langlands from Ipswich flew to Rockhampton to help prepare food for the hundreds of emergency service personnel dealing with the Fitzroy River flooding. Photo: Chris Ison ROK010111
AS Queensland struggles to recover from floods of ‘biblical proportions', Ipswich volunteers have gone to the aid of devastated flood victims.
Salvation Army Ipswich Major Margaret Dobbie and husband Bruce are among a team of 10 locals who are on the ground in Rockhampton.
Major Dobbie said the Ipswich Salvation Army emergency response team had caught the last flight into the town on Friday night.
She said the sheer devastation she had seen while flying into the city was the worst she had ever witnessed.
“You looked out the window of the plane and all you could see was a sea of water.
“In some areas you could see livestock clinging to little patches of ground.
“You just know, when the water comes up, they won't survive, which is pretty devastating.
“You see the tops of roofs and properties and just think ‘you poor people'.
“It will be a long time before they are back on their feet.”
Residents in the central Queensland town were bracing for the Fitzroy River to reach a height of 9m today.
If the river does reach that height, then 200 homes will be inundated and 4000 parcels of land affected by flooding.
Authorities warned the city could be isolated for up to 10 days with the airport closed to commercial flights.
Major Dobbie said the team was working out of the Rockhampton College of TAFE.
The volunteers are putting in eight-hour days preparing meals for flood evacuees.
“We had about 80 for dinner Saturday night,” Major Dobbie said.
“We were told it could be up to 2000, but that hasn't happened yet.”
Major Dobbie said the group's 10-day stint could blow out to weeks, depending on when they were allowed to fly out.
But she said they were happy to stay as long as they were needed.
“We are here to give local people a break,” Major Dobbie said.
“They are the ones who will be left with the long-term after- effects.”
Meanwhile 10 SES volunteers have signed up to help clean-up efforts in Chinchilla and Dalby, as floodwaters in both towns start to recede.
Ipswich SES area controller Arie van den Ende said the volunteers had left yesterday.
He said the majority of the team had honed their skills helping with previous flood relief efforts, such as those in Charleville in May last year.
“The majority of them have been up north Queensland, down to Newcastle and Melbourne,” Mr van den Ende said.
“They have told the others what to expect and how to talk to people affected.
“It is always hard, but they love going.
“When we put the call out for volunteers, we had 25 put their hands up and we picked 10.”
Mr van den Ende said the first team would put in a 10-day stint.
They will then be relieved by the next wave of local volunteers.
Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale said the city would reach out to those hardest hit by the recent floods.
“As we celebrate the New Year we should reflect on those people who need our help,” Cr Pisasale said.
“We are going to see what we can do as a city to help our neighbours to the north.”
He said he had spoken to Rockhampton Mayor Brad Carter to let him know Ipswich was ready to help in any way it was needed.
“As a city we are big enough to make a difference and small enough to care,” Cr Pisasale said.