THINK of a war zone and there's a good chance you're imagining the scenes found at North Bundaberg.
Holes big enough for several buses to fall in litter the roads, power poles lay strewn about, cars appear to have been picked up and thrown around by an angry giant, a home sits on the main road out of town and the streets sink beneath your feet.
I was part of a very small group of journalists allowed access to the horror at North Bundaberg yesterday but it was no simple sight-seeing trip.
Police Inspector Mark Henderson said it was important to allow some media access to the zone to help people understand why they could not yet return home - and trust me when I say there's a very, very good reason.
I was a reporter during the Bundaberg floods two years ago and the damage is indescribably worse.
Walking along Thornhill St near the Hockey grounds to inspect a pile of cars that had been thrown about and tossed together by the water, the road began to crumble beneath me and we were forced to retreat and the precarious state of the infrastructure is the same in every street.
"As you are aware we've taken precautions coming across here today but I do want to get the message through to the public of Bundaberg, this is a big steep feat that you face and particularly those here from the north side," Insp Henderson said.
"The big dangers that we're facing here is the road as you can see has big sink holes in it, power poles with transformers have sunk into the ground.
"The ongoing dangers for people to be walking around here are just not worth the risk to public life. The property can be replaced but lives can't be."
Among the most shocking sights is a house that has been carried by the floodwater on to Queen St near the IGA complex and the twisted metal that was once the train tracks.
The damage to the Tallon Bridge is horrific, the twisted pile of metal and rubble is a devastating sight to see.
Insp Henderson said crews were assessing the safety of each building and as that was done, residents would slowly be allowed back in.
"I think the biggest shock for the Bundaberg people, again particularly those of North Bundaberg, is going to be the fact that unlike previous occasions when the water has subsided and they were simply allowed to walk to their places and try the best to get on with life, there are some inhibiting factors this time round," he said.
"It certainly has been worse as infrastructure goes and it has certainly created some dangerous situations we have to work through prior to allowing people back in."
Insp Henderson stressed that people were working as hard as possible.
"We really are urging people please be patient please bear with us another few days (and) we will start to let people in where we can," he said.
"The water has started to recede and there's little doubt about it and we can see that in front of us but what it's left is a tale of destruction to the roads and the infrastructure.
"It's left this area particularly of North Bundaberg very, very badly damaged and very, very unsafe."
Despite our police escort, we were in no way safe in the disaster zone that is North Bundaberg and while it's frustrating for people who want to get home and start the cleanup, this exclusion zone is set up with one goal in mind - keeping people alive.
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