Premier Campbell Newman said Queensland was a state of extremes and he must rebuild infrastructure accordingly.
Premier Campbell Newman said Queensland was a state of extremes and he must rebuild infrastructure accordingly. Chris Ison

Newman to build more 'resilient' Qld after floods

HISTORIANS will look back on the 2013 floods as "a game-changer", Premier Campbell Newman declared as he flagged huge costs to build a more"resilient" Queensland.

Mr Newman said Queensland was a state of extremes and he must rebuild infrastructure accordingly.

He said he would consider relocating entire suburbs and communities if they expressed such a desire.

More flood levees and dams.

Raising and relocating highways to protect them from floodwaters.

New approach to replacing bridges and repairing roads.

"Yes it may cost more. But a bit more now could mean a lot less in the future," Mr Newman said.

"Building like-for-like will get you the same result.

"We owe this not only to those who lost their lives but to those who have lost their livelihoods and their homes.

"When future historians look back on this time, they will see that Queensland's extreme weather event of January, 2013, was more than just another sign to be put on a river marker alongside 1893 and 1974 and 2011 or in the case of the Burnett River, 1942.

"This event will be seen by future historians as a game-changer that made the government of the day take a bold new approach.

"We commit today to building a more resilient Queensland."

Mr Newman said the first disaster damage bill estimate was $2.4 billion, though the total figure may not be known for months.

There were 4224 properties damaged, 2302 now uninhabitable.

Bundaberg had the highest number of uninhabitable properties at 1321.

Uninhabitable properties: Fraser Coast 302, North Burnett 206, Gympie 131, Gladstone, 90, Rockhampton 81, Lockyer Valley 80, Brisbane 33, Southern Downs 17, Western Downs 16, Ipswich 9, Banana 7, Somerset 7 and Sunshine Coast 2.

Mr Newman said he was left feeling "shocked, saddened and frustrated in the wake of Queensland's second widespread major natural disaster within two years".

He said Tropical Cyclone Oswald began its 2600km "rampage" on January 22 from the Gulf of Carpentaria down the entire length of Queensland to Coolangatta, and then further south to NSW.

"Its unrelenting rain caused river heights in Bundaberg and the Burnett, with some communities, especially in the Burnett region, being totally cut off from the outside world for days before communication could be restored and help could arrive," he said.

"The destructive winds of the ex-tropical cyclone also sheared off trees and rooves and cut power to more homes in South-East Queensland than the floods of January, 2011.

"This disaster has devastated communities, smashed rural industries, ruined infrastructure and displaced more than 2000 families."

Mr Newman said a common theme emerged from each of his trips to flood-affected areas.

"Friends were helping friends, neighbours were helping neighbours but best of all, strangers were helping strangers," he said.

"Mud armies sprang up everywhere supported by people who made sandwiches and made cups of tea and made the best of a tough situation.

"To give you one example of the kindness of strangers; at a nursing home in Bundaberg which had 30cm of mud through it, the elderly residents were in shock as they surveyed their sodden possessions.

"A few had family there to help by many more did not.

"Suddenly out of nowhere, strangers turned up, put a comforting arm around them and started cleaning the units.

"The event has produced many unheralded angels.

"I was told three National Park rangers who toiled for almost 12 hours to move more than 150 fallen trees to regain access for tourists and conference delegates at O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat in Lamington National Park - a massive effort.

"A group of Bundaberg police officers who had been working long hours during the flood event finally got a day of, but instead of taking a well-earned rest, they donned gumboots and gloves and helped a colleague clean out their flood-affected house in North Bundaberg."

Mr Newman paid tribute to the six people who lost their lives during this flood event:

  • Angus Burke, 3, Gordon Park.
  • Jacob Luke Shearer, 27, Widgee.
  • Roger Boyles, 65, Greenbank.
  • Wolfgang Kaden, 81, Bundaberg.
  • Yu-kun Pan, 25, Gatton
  • Swee Leong Fan, 34, Lockyer Valley


THE NUMBERS

  • 4224 properties damaged, 2302 uninhabitable.
  • Bundaberg had the highest number of uninhabitable properties at 1321.
  • 50% of dairy farmers affected
  • 50% of pork producers affected, two piggeries all but wiped out and 5000 pigs drowned.
  • Australian Citrus Growers Association says every property in the Bundaberg and Central Burnett districts, about a third of Queensland's industry, has been hit.
  • $10 million worth of crops have been lost.


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