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Making the best of it a year after M'boro flood disaster

Kent St in Maryborough's central business district was inundated by floodwaters in January last year.
Kent St in Maryborough's central business district was inundated by floodwaters in January last year. Robyne Cuerel

THIS time last year the Fraser Coast had been devastated by a record flood and wild winds.

Some people had lost everything in their homes, everything in their businesses or everything on their farms.

Mother Nature showed no mercy to the region.

Burrum Heads was battered, Hervey Bay's foreshore destroyed and Maryborough drowned.

But, on these days a year ago the waters had receded and the wind had died down - and the Fraser Coast had a job to do.

Heavy boots soaked in mud trundled down the main streets pushing wheelbarrows full of debris.

A flying visit by Premier Campbell Newman assured residents the Fraser Coast would not be forgotten in its time of need.

The community spirit of the Fraser Coast was demonstrated best when it needed to stand as a community.

In the blink of an eye bridges were cleared, roads opened and businesses beginning to rebuild.

Fraser Coast Regional Council Mayor Gerard O'Connell said: "Frankly, I think it has been the making of the Fraser Coast in the modern era."

"We saw large numbers of people, individuals, sporting groups, service clubs, businesses with their staff and schools all came out to volunteer to assist."

In Burrum Heads a freak tornado flattened homes and bought down trees.

Once the winds dropped and the rain stopped the sleepy village was left with a mammoth clean-up.

Residents scoured the streets searching for bits of their property that had flown down the street.

Back in Hervey Bay the beach had disappeared.

A king tide combined with strong winds lashed the foreshore and created a saltwater river in Urangan streets.

Toward the southern end of the Fraser Coast history had repeated itself in Maryborough.

Flood heights similar to the great flood of 1893 reached the Maryborough CBD.

The rapidly rising water found its way around a levee that was constructed in the heart of Maryborough.

It rose from the drains and it fell from the sky.

The peak only lasted a few hours and then in dropped as fast as it rose.

Using some old- fashioned hard work and the spirit of the community businesses rebuilt.

But a year on some are still struggling to get back to normal following the disaster.

But thanks to the work of strangers, volunteers, emergency services and governments the Fraser Coast is still standing on two feet.

Future prevention

Mayor Gerard O'Connell has three main projects he wants to see to minimise the impact of a flood.

  • Raising the approaches of the Granville Bridge
  • Flood-proofing Maryborough Hervey Bay Rd
  • Flood-proofing Torbanlea Pialba Rd

Almost there

SINCE last January's disaster the region has almost returned to normal.

With grants from the State Government, Cr O'Connell said most of the repair work had been completed.

"Council has received just under $3 million in betterment money," he said.

Cr O'Connell said most of the money had gone to repairing Poona Rd and Cherry Tree Rd.

Measures have also been taken to assist in preparation and resilience.

About a dozen flood wardens have been assigned to outlying communities.

"(These are) people in their individual towns who take on a communication role to relay pieces of information to us," Cr O'Connell said.

"That's important because we can get first hand information from places afar."

Intensive work between the council and emergency services will also create a more streamlined response to a disaster.

A reviewed and rewritten Disaster Management Plan was adopted and a Get Ready campaign was launched.

Topics:  floods fraser coast maryborough



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