Volunteer crews save 50 victims
VOLUNTEER flood boat crews rescued more than 50 stranded people from floodwaters across Ipswich at the height of the disaster.
The Training Ship Ipswich – part of the Royal Australian Navy Cadets – had three boats in operation during the floods, taking people from isolated areas like Collingwood Park and Goodna to Ipswich, where they could get access to evacuation centres, the hospital and other services.
TS Ipswich Commanding Officer Jim Runham said the crews braved strong currents and massive debris as they rushed to get people to safety.
“We were told there were 30 people stuck on an island and that they were drowning and that we had to rescue them,” Mr Runham said.
“I sent my other two boats and left (Ripley Valley Rural Fire Brigade volunteer) Brendon Weber to do the last trip out of Collingwood Park because there were people that needed to get out.”
Eight people volunteered to take part in the dangerous operation after Mr Runham put out a call.
The evacuations went on for six days almost continuously, from Tuesday, January 11 to Monday, January 17.
It was chaotic, he said.“We went from Kruger Parade, then motored across Ipswich Motorway, over the railway line, down to the Brisbane River, into Goodna to the RSL; then back upstream to rescue another family for a medical emergency ... and this was all by boat,” he said.
“That was an 8km journey and the water was moving at about 20 knots, with shipping containers and other debris whipping past.”
All together, the volunteers performed 56 evacuations and medical emergency transportations, as well as one salvage job and two flooded vehicle searches.
A dog, a cat and a chicken with one leg were also shipped to safety.