A LITTLE overwhelmed by all the attention yesterday, Natalie Carr once again made her parents, Bettina and Phillip Carr, proud as she recounted the steps she took to help save her dad and brother in January’s flood.
It was the afternoon of January 7 when Natalie and her brother Adam, 8, were down by Glastonbury Creek and he was swept away.
“I saw him hanging on to a tree, and all the water rushing off his back,” Natalie said.
She went home and got dad.
Mr Carr jumped on a motorbike and they rode down to where Adam fell into the water.
“Dad went in to try and save Adam ... they both went down the creek.”
A frantic Natalie tried to find them, and when she couldn’t she rushed home and tried to call her mum.
“I didn’t really know what to think. I thought they would have drowned,” she said.
“It was really scary.”
But mum was in Gympie cut off by flood waters and Natalie had to leave a message. About 6.30pm she did what fire and rescue personnel say was a great thing. She called 000.
QFRS Gympie Area Director Lloyd Johnston said Natalie did an extremely good job and introduced her to Trish Whitehead, the communications officer who helped her through the ordeal.
Mrs Whitehead, the real life person on the other end of the line, received an Assistant Commissioner’s commendation award for professionalism and teamwork along with fellow officer Christine Cast and supervisor Glenys Hogarth – who all had a role to play during the crisis.
Trying to keep Natalie calm on the phone while her father and brother were possibly drowning was the main focus for Mrs Whitehead during the phone conversation.
“She was a dream 000 caller and gave more information that most adults,” Mrs Whitehead said.
They talked for about half-an-hour before Natalie saw her dad coming back.
Mr Carr said the flats at the back of the family home in Upper Glastonbury were covered in water and fed into the creek.
“We were flooded in for the best part of a fortnight.,” Mr Carr said.
When Adam wanted to see the water and Natalie said she would go with him, Mr Carr let them go as his daughter was “pretty sensible”.
After Natalie raised the alarm and Mr Carr saw the water hit his son and go over his head, he jumped into the creek to try and save him.
Mr Carr feared Adam couldn’t hold on for long and would drown, but the current was so strong he was washed down the creek even though he had tied a rope to a tree.
It was then Natalie ran home and dialled emergency services and a search was co-ordinated.
At one point Mr Carr fought hard to make it to a tree that Adam was clinging to, he used every ounce of strength he had and then the rope broke. “It felt like there was no hope.”
About 100 meters downstream he was able to cling onto a row of trees and pull himself out.
“I was so out of breath, I couldn’t breathe in. I thought he was gone ... thought Adam was dead.”
Then Mr Carr saw his son walking with no clothes on – the water had washed them away.
“I thought I was hallucinating. I thought he couldn’t have gotten out.”
“I was really lucky. I don’t know how Adam did it, he was smaller.”
When Natalie saw her dad and brother heading back to the house she didn’t know whether to give Adam a hug or a kiss.
She sent a message to other children not to play near rushing water.
“It scared me, don’t do it again,” she told her brother.
Adam conceded he was “a little scared” when dad went in.
Mrs Carr said people did amazing things when they had to, at the same time Natalie was on the phone to Mrs Whitehead, she was listening and talking to Ms Hogarth and Mrs Case.
She said it was good to put a face to those who had helped.
“It was nerve-racking but we knew we had backup and people looking after us.”
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.