Jason Baas helps remove belongings from a site at the Riverdale Caravan Park, Bundaberg North.
Jason Baas helps remove belongings from a site at the Riverdale Caravan Park, Bundaberg North. Mike Knott

200 homes evacuated

UP TO 200 homes may be flooded up to their floorboards this morning, as the Burnett River is expected to peak at 7.5 metres — the worst flood in nearly 70 years.

SES volunteers were going door-to-door to hundreds of homes in east, south and North Bundaberg last night, asking for residents to evacuate.

“We are asking people to stay with family and friends,” Bundaberg Local Disaster Management Committee chairman David Batt said.

“If they have absolutely nowhere to go, they can go to the Civic Centre, where basic beds will be provided.”

He said those evacuated would need to bring their own food, toiletries and dry clothing.

Water was already lapping at about 15 homes near the rum distillery at Bundaberg east last night, and more were expected to go under water last night.

“The river rose very fast (yesterday) — about 15cm an hour all day, and the news from the Bureau of Meteorology is that it will reach 7 metres overnight, and 7.5 metres (this morning),” Cr Batt said.

“It’s going to be above the 1954 levels.”

Up to 100 people were evacuated from the Riverdale Caravan Park yesterday afternoon, and have been offered temporary accommodation at the showground.

Pensioner George Kearle said he had lost everything he owned because his caravan was flooded when water covered 15 metres of ground in less than an hour.

“We couldn’t get the van out quick enough,” he said.

Mr Kearle said he had not seen anyone from the SES, police or the council helping the park’s residents yesterday morning — a concern raised by other park residents.

“Our neighbours with four kids have lost everything, and there’s a lot of people who have lost their clothes and food,” resident Amber Howard said.

“I am wearing someone else’s shorts and shoes — I don’t even know whose they are.”

Bundaberg woman Belle Parker said she was passing the caravan park when she saw the disaster unfolding.

“We put the call out on our UHF radio for people with utes to come and help tow the vans out,” Mrs Parker said.

She said volunteers managed to move a number of vans to higher ground yesterday morning, but they could not save fixed dwellings.

“They need dry clothes, blankets, towels, and food urgently.”

Riverdale Caravan Park owner Scott Grogan said he had contacted the Bundaberg Disaster Management Group asking for flood advice two weeks ago, but had not had a response.

Cr Batt said the council, SES and police acted as quickly as they could to help the caravan park residents.

“As of (Tuesday) they weren’t going to be inundated, the floods have been much worse than we initially expected,” he said.

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