Thursday, February 7:
Australian ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) members Mike Greenslade and Andrew Gauci have been on the ground in Queensland's Bundaberg, following the recent devastating floods that have caused millions of dollars worth of damage.
Tropical Cyclone Oswald brought high winds and torrential rain that poured down for days in large parts of Queensland. The city of Bundaberg, which has a population of 100,000, was one of the hardest hit areas as the Burnett River burst its banks. The flood, which peaked at a higher than expected 9.5 metres, swept through the northern part of the city inundating houses with water and mud.
People cut off by rising waters that were flowing at more than 70 kilometres per hour had to be rescued by helicopters as opposed to boats. One lady had to hold on to a tree for 5 hours until she was rescued.
Assisted by local Rotarian and longtime ShelterBox supporter, Tom Head, the team has been meeting with local authorities, relief centres and charity groups to assess the need for emergency shelter.
'My wife and I were evacuated out by helicopter before the floodwaters reached us,' said Tom. 'When we returned to our home the next day we were worried about what state our house would be in. Luckily it was untouched but the damage around the rest of the city is terrible. Bridges have collapsed; large areas of the roads have been washed away; and some houses have literally sunk into the ground leaving just the roofs in sight. We are very impressed and thankful to see ShelterBox here assessing the need.'
Even though there is widespread destruction, Mike says there is no need for ShelterBox tents in the area as there are people, like Tom, who are putting families up in their undamaged homes and the local government is also helping.
'Many people will not be able to return to their homes for months to come as their properties have to be cleaned, treated for mould and repaired before they are safe to inhabit again,' said Mike. 'But having come here and assessed the need for emergency shelter, we have found that ShelterBoxes are not needed. Residents have been staying in shelters around Bundaberg and now the local government has announced that those left homeless by the disaster are to move into comfortable temporary accommodation as their homes are rebuilt.'
ShelterBox Australia recently distributed ShelterBoxes to families displaced by the recent bush fires in Tasmania. back