Floodwaters gone, but Mayor says it will take years to recover from record deluge

A flood-hit area of southeast Queensland will take years to recover from a “once in a lifetime” disaster, the mayor of rain-ravaged Gympie says.

Jan 18, 2022, updated Jan 18, 2022
An aerial view of Gympie at the peak of the flood. (Image: Supplied)

An aerial view of Gympie at the peak of the flood. (Image: Supplied)

Recovery co-ordinator Paul de Jersey was delivered the sobering verdict while visiting areas hit hard by floodwaters in the Wide Bay-Burnett region that killed two people.

Mr de Jersey began his tour with Deputy Premier Steven Miles at Gympie on Monday and appeared taken aback by the full impact of the devastation caused by the recent torrential rains.

“We were told this morning in Gympie that it could take four to five years (for the region to recover) – there is a lot of work to be done, it is not a short exercise,” Mr de Jersey said.

Gympie mayor Glen Hartwig said the region was still reeling from the rain caused by remnants of ex-cyclone Seth, admitting nothing could have prepared them for the deluge.

“The damage to our roads and infrastructure is at such a significant level that it will take years to repair the damage that has been caused,” he told AAP.

“Working in partnership with both the state and federal government we want to look at ensuring that we repair this infrastructure to a level that damage of this nature doesn’t occur again.

“That will take a considerable amount of time to plan, design and install.”

Mr Hartwig said worst-hit areas were Kilkivan, Tansey, Woolooga and Booubyjan, where the search for missing 14-year-old girl Krystal Cain continues.

She became separated from her father after their car became submerged near Booubyjan on January 8.

“When people study the deluge and intensity of the rainfall they will understand that it is hopefully a once in a lifetime event,” he said.

“It is not like a normal flood where you can prepare yourself emotionally for what is to come – this was an absolute deluge, nearly 12 months’ worth in about 12 hours.

“So it was difficult for people to prepare for the damage and the massive loss to stock and livelihoods.

“But all rural communities are the same. They get around each other and support each other in difficult times – and these are very difficult times.

“These are very tough people. They just need a little help from state and federal government to get back on their feet.”

Former Queensland Governor Mr de Jersey said he was happy to provide that help.

After taking in Gympie, he will also assess flood damage at Maryborough and Hervey Bay on Monday before visiting the North Burnett region on Tuesday.

“The greatest challenge is to recognise where resources are needed,” Mr de Jersey said.

“But it is also very important to recognise the emotional toll that these events take on people, so that will be monitored.”

Bauple farmer Steve Bottcher, 52, and a 22-year-old Sunshine Coast man died in the floods.

Meanwhile, state and federal financial assistance for flood-hit areas has been extended with grants of up to $50,000 available for small businesses and primary producers.

Flood damaged sporting clubs in those regions are now also eligible for emergency funding of up to $5000.

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