Released 1 January 2011
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Salvation Army emergency services personnel from the Australia Eastern Territory have been working around the clock for a number of days in their relief effort to help tens of thousands of people impacted by an ‘unprecedented’ flood crisis in central and south-east Queensland. Expectations are that the worst is yet to come for many areas.
Dozens of cities and towns have been affected by the floods - the deluge continuing largely unabated since Christmas Eve – with some areas recording more than four times their average monthly rainfall for December.
A number of rivers have burst their banks, inundating town centers and leaving many smaller communities completely cut off. The floods already encompass an area larger than the combined size of France and Germany.
‘The level of rainfall has been phenomenal,’ said Central and North Queensland Divisional Commander Major Rodney Walters who has been helping to coordinate The Salvation Army’s relief effort from Divisional Headquarters in Rockhampton where residents are bracing for the worst floods in 20 years.
‘It’s been raining virtually non-stop for days on end and with many rivers still to reach their predicted peak the worst is yet to come in terms of flooding,’ he added.
More than 200,000 properties across Queensland are still without power – most of them in the Bundaberg region - with thousands of people being forced to evacuate their homes. It is expected that it will be at least several days before they will be allowed to return to their homes.
Other areas hard hit include Emerald - where up to 80 per cent of the city is inundated – and the communities of Gin Gin, Dalby, Theodore and Chinchilla.
Eight areas across southern and central Queensland are the subject of government disaster declarations with Queensland Premier Anna Bligh describing the floods as ‘an unprecedented situation in Queensland’.
In Rockhampton, The Salvation Army has been involved in feeding more than 1200 people at three evacuation centers in the city while also providing meals for dozens of volunteer and support staff.
Further west at Emerald - where the Nogoa River is expected to peak at 16.2 meters - and south at Bundaberg, more than 1400 people are being provided with meals by Salvation Army emergency services personnel.
The Salvation Army is also feeding more than 350 travelers at Gin Gin who have become stranded after all major roads in the area were cut off by floodwaters. Rail services have also been affected.
The emergency relief effort is being assisted by The Salvation Army Flying Padre helicopter service through the transportation of supplies to stricken communities over the vast area impacted by the flooding. The newly commissioned helicopter is also being used to rescue people trapped by the floods in dangerous.
‘The Salvation Army emergency services teams are providing care and feeding programs to flood-evacuated people at a number of designated evacuation centers,’ said Central and North Queensland Divisional Communications and Public Relations Secretary Captain Megan Gallagher.
‘These emergency teams are mostly made up of Salvation Army volunteers who are also in some circumstances, themselves the victims of the floods.’
At Warwick, in south-east Queensland, The Salvation Army is involved in feeding more than 800 motorists who have become stranded in the city with all major roads in the area cut by floodwaters.
With river levels in many areas not forecast to peak until early next week, The Salvation Army is bracing for the relief effort to continue well into this new year.
Report by Scott Simpson