Cheryl McDowell’s on Alexandra Street in East Bundaberg was swamped by fast rising floodwaters.
Cheryl McDowell’s on Alexandra Street in East Bundaberg was swamped by fast rising floodwaters. Max Fleet

Residents flee to high ground

TIM Hopper will never forget the feeling he had as he watched water creeping closer to his east Bundaberg home on Tuesday night.

“I didn't sleep at all. I just sat watching and hoping it would go down but it didn't,” Mr Hopper said.

“I felt sick – I just wanted to cry.”

Mr Hopper has lived in his Ann Street home for almost eight years and in Bundaberg for 22, and is now staying at the Civic Centre, which is being used as an evacuation point for stranded residents.

“The water was flooding my garage and starting to get into the house when I had to evacuate (Wednesday) morning,” Mr Hopper said.

“I have no idea when I'll be able to get home.”

Mr Hopper said he took his most valuable possessions, including slide images of his grandparents.

“I had to jump my back fence to get out; the water was too high at the front,” he said.

“I picked a lot of tomatoes to pay for my house and now there's water in it.

“I didn't even have any insurance for my stuff because I never thought anything like this would ever happen.”

George Street resident Cathy Stevens has also been evacuated from her Queenslander home after water climbed the stairs and ended up flooding through her home.

“I've been sleeping with the dog in my truck,” she said.

“I'm stuck because my pay isn't in yet and I only had one day of work over Christmas – at least I've got some food for the dog.”

Bundaberg Regional Council workplace health and safety officer Paul McCarthy said about 42 people were staying at the centre with the number expected to rise.

“It's going to get worse,” Mr McCarthy said.

A generous donation of mattresses from Australian Foam and Rubber is keeping many evacuees in beds, but more are desperately needed.

“Some transport companies, Emerald Refrigerated Hauling and PFD Food Services, even got stuck in town with trucks full of fresh food and they donated it to us to help feed people,” Mr McCarthy said.

“The Heritage Church had food there and the water started coming in so they donated it as well.”

Mr McCarthy said some residents were handling the situation better than others.

“We have a few people coming in a bit more panicky than others and you're always going to get the ones who think we could do more to be helping them and playing the blame game,” he said.

To donate food, blankets and much-needed mattresses to the evacuation centre, contact the council on 1300 883 699 or head to the Civic Centre.