The small community of Grantham in Queensland’s Lockyer Valley is picking up the pieces as floodwaters recede and reveal devastating damage to homes and businesses.
- Many Grantham residents were forced to flee their homes
- Receding floodwaters are revealing heartbreaking damage to homes and businesses
- The community is rallying together to begin a big clean-up effort
Many residents were forced to flee as floodwaters inundated the town late last week.
Locals are now returning to heartbreaking damage and beginning a massive clean-up effort.
“Just looking around now, and I just think, ‘Where do you start? Where does anybody start?'” Evacuee Karen Goodwin said, standing among her sodden possessions.
Ms Goodwin was forced to evacuate and wade through waist-deep floodwaters to seek higher ground and wait for rescue crews.
Floodwaters have receded, and Grantham’s residential streets are lined with piles of destroyed furniture and belongings.
The floor of Ms Goodwin’s home is now covered in mud and filled with the stench of rotting debris.
“It’s overwhelming to come and see not just my stuff — but my parents live with me, and they’re eighty — and to see some of their memorable stuff,” she said.
Parts of the Lockyer Valley, located between Brisbane and Toowoomba, received more than 500 millimeters of rain since last Thursday evening, taking lives, inundating homes, and cutting roads.
The flood is reminiscent of the 2011 flood when 19 people died after a wall of water smashed through Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley.
Locals say this flood event was not as severe as 2011, but it was still bad enough that some were rescued from the rooftops of their homes.
Massive clean-up ahead
Rain clouds have given way to sunshine and blue skies this week, revealing the extent of damage to the town and creating formidable humidity for volunteers trying to clean up.
On the outskirts of Grantham, farmer Glenn Reinke’s recently-harvested hay was swept away by the flood.
“That’s our livelihood. We sell it,” he said.
Flooding also caused significant damage to irrigation and electrical infrastructure and low-lying areas of the farm.
Mr Reinke’s farm is his “pride and joy”, and he said it would take weeks to get things repaired.
“It’s not the best, but that’s life,” he said.
“And we always look at it that there’s always someone worse off than we are.”
In town, power was cut for several days, and at Grantham’s local grocery store, owner Tanya Hooper and her helpers have been working 12-hour days in the dark.
“We’ve shoveled all the mud out and gurneyed it all out a couple of times,” Ms Hooper said.
“It’s still pretty muddy in there, but we’re hoping by tonight we’ll have the floors looking half decent,” Ms Hooper said.
Destroyed stock is piled high outside the shop.
“We may need to replace all our fridges and freezers,” she said.
“That’s probably the big thing and a lot of stock.”
Ms Hooper said the town was facing “massive” recovery.
“We’ve had our ups and downs,” she said.
“You can’t sit in the corner and cry, so you’ve just got to get on with it and keep moving.”
Community steps up to help
The scene is similar to the fuel station next door, where locals are throwing flood-damaged items into a box trailer.
“We’re going to have to replace all the bowsers and electronics,” fuel station owner Scott Barton said.
“Hopefully, by the weekend, we should be trading again.”
Locals are volunteering to help business owners and other residents clean-up in the aftermath.
“We’re not locals, and they’ve been looking after us,” Mr Barton said.
Ms Hooper said each day new groups of local volunteers were turning up at the shop and helping.
“Just thanks to everyone who helped us, all our volunteers. They’ve been bloody awesome.”
Residents in flood-affected Local Government Areas throughout south-east Queensland are now eligible for a range of state and federal government disaster assistance grants.