Members from the Warwick, Stanthorpe and Wallangarra SES branches helped in and around Maryborough (from left) Phil Skilton, Pedro Curr, Jennifer Carnell, Janine Hegaty, Simone Hamlet, Albert Piper, Greame Davis, Kerin Politch, Brian Spingborg and Donna Turnley.
Members from the Warwick, Stanthorpe and Wallangarra SES branches helped in and around Maryborough (from left) Phil Skilton, Pedro Curr, Jennifer Carnell, Janine Hegaty, Simone Hamlet, Albert Piper, Greame Davis, Kerin Politch, Brian Spingborg and Donna Turnley. Mike Nolan

Hugs for SES members who helped with massive flood clean-up

SES volunteers from the Southern Downs put their hands up to travel north and help with the clean-up effort along the Mary River.

Leaving the Southern Downs early Sunday morning 10 members of the SES branches from Warwick, Stanthorpe and Wallangarra spent a week in Maryborough, Monto, Gayndah and Mundubbera where they met up with a further 35 volunteers from across the south-west region.

They rolled back into the Southern Downs late Thursday afternoon tired, muddy and craving a warm shower.

"Basically we went out and helped the community," Warwick volunteer Donna Turnley said.

"We saw lots of mud, wreaked furniture and distressed people and got a lot of hugs.

"We threw a lot of rubbish into skip bins, retrieved some lost boats and helped clean up a caravan park.

"The poor caravan park owner had six of his dongas washed away by the floodwater. We found three of them a few blocks away, all smashed up and stuck up a mango tree."

Fellow Warwick volunteer Janine Hegaty said the locals' anguish was palpable.

"There were quite a lot of people who had been through this sort of thing before and they were very traumatised," Mrs Hegaty said.

"But at the same time there were others who had never been flooded and they were amazed at how high the water and mud got."

Whenever there is a natural disaster, opportunists will always seek to take advantage of the chaos, but Mrs Hegaty said the resilience of Mary River residents kept most of the would-be looters at bay.

"I was talking to one elderly lady who said she was sitting in her house when she heard two men out the front saying that they thought her house was empty," she said.

"She opened the front door to see two blokes standing there with a crowbar and she told them to bugger off.

"She was 76 and said she'd been through this kind of thing before. It was quite funny actually.

"She said 'I would have stabbed them if they tried to get in'."



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