Stacey Keep lost her mother Dawn Radke in the Grantham floods.
Stacey Keep lost her mother Dawn Radke in the Grantham floods. Contributed

Flooded with emotion

THE January floods in Queensland affected everyday people in many different ways.

Whether it was offering clean-up support, giving donations or merely watching the tragedy unfold on television and in the newspapers, everybody's life was changed in one way or another, it seems.

The stories of heroism that resulted will remain in people's memories forever.

Almost a year down the track, some of the Sunshine Coast's heroes share their stories here about how the history-making events changed their lives.

Christine Jones

CHRISTINE Jones has not forgotten the January floods.

The Nambour Safe committee chairman thinks daily about the people affected and is almost brought to tears when talking of the heartache caused by the floods.

Ms Jones was one of the generous Sunshine Coast community members to offer aid at Mt Sylvia near Brisbane after the devastation.

Her gift to the community was simple and yet affective: 300 shoeboxes filed with toiletries, toys and clothes.

Together with student leaders from Nambour State School, she named the gifts Boxes of Love and personally handed them to flood victims.

Almost a year on, Mrs Jones is still in contact with the people she helped, with plans for further donations of Boxes of Love next year.

"It was a life-changing experience for myself and the kids," Ms Jones said.

"To watch the floods on the news was one thing, but to go and meet the people in person and see the damage caused was just heartbreaking."

She said her most memorable moment of gratitude was when a man, who had watched his home wash away, gave her a hug.

"It is a funny thing to stand and hug a stranger. You can't help but to cry," she said.

"We handed him a Box of Love and he just burst into tears, and we did, too."

Ms Jones wants to meet the flood-affected residents again and offer her support.

She has organised a trip involving students from Nambour State School to visit Mt Sylvia in the new year.

"We don't really know what they need, so we will go and talk to the community, maybe play some cricket or help out," she said.

"I want these people to know that we are still thinking of them 12 months down the track and that help is still available."

Dave McLean

DRIVING a rubber inflatable rescue boat (IRB) through the flooded streets of Brisbane was poles apart from the usual bashing of ocean waves for Surf Life Saving Queensland volunteer Dave McLean.

The Marcoola Surf Club member and volunteer surf lifesaver was called into the flood-rescue effort on January 27.

He and several other volunteer surf lifesaving crews from across the Sunshine Coast had to manoeuvre their IRBs through flooded streets, rescuing victims and aiding State Emergency Services personnel.

Mr McLean said the experience had made everyone involved thankful for the opportunity to help.

"I suppose when you see all the people who literally lost everything, you really feel grateful to be able to help," he said.

"People were devastated and still could say thank you, which I thought was remarkable."

Mr McLean worked 24 hours on the first night of the floods and continued in the rescue effort for another two days.

"It was pretty massive effort by all crews," he said.

"We had 231 call-outs in three days alone."

More than 30 Sunshine Coast surf lifesaving volunteers helped in the rescue effort.

They were joined by 230 volunteers from the Gold Coast.

The crews were required to drive emergency officers through the flooded streets, aid in rescues, and deliver food and water to flood victims.

"We did everything from picking up a coffin to ferrying ambulance officers to a veteran who had had a heart attack," Mr McLean said.

He said it was the largest group co-ordination response for the volunteer surf clubs since he had begun as a volunteer 35 years ago.

"All the volunteer lifesaving clubs worked together so well," Mr McLean said.

"It was the best group effort. We all knew the protocol, to be safe and respond when needed.

"It was a huge co-ordinated effort."

Kenilworth Bowls Club

THE people of Kenilworth know the meaning of community spirit.

The community rallied to raise more than $18,000 for a family devastated by the January floods.

Stacey and Matthew Keep lost their 23-month-old daughter Jessica and both their mothers when the roaring and unstoppable water washed through their Grantham home.

The house was gutted and their lives were left shattered.

Kenilworth Bowls Club committee member Veronica Serriday heard of the Keeps' story and wanted to do something to help.

"Their story is one of the most heart-breaking to come out of the floods," Mrs Serriday said.

"To lose their daughter as well as their mothers would be devastating.

"What they went through would have turned anyone to tears."

The story touched the heart of the entire Kenilworth community, with members organising a fund-raising drive at the Kenilworth Bowls Club.

The event included raffles, an auction and a meal of home-cooked Thai food.

Mrs Serriday said they had raised more than $8000 within a few hours.

"Everybody just banded together and opened their wallets. It was truly inspirational," she said.

"When we announced that $18,000 had been raised at the end of the night, everybody was just shocked and so happy."

The Keeps were told of the money raised the next morning.

"They were gobsmacked," Mrs Serriday said.

"They just could not believe how much we raised for them."

Donations of clothes, toys and bedding also were given to the family.

Mrs Serriday said many community members remained in contact with the family, who visited the bowls club in September last year.

"The whole event really brought the community together and made us all appreciate everything we have," she said.

"When you can help another in need, even if it is a stranger, it changes you forever."

Graeme Dean

GRAEME Dean has been a member of the Maroochydore State Emergency Services for 24 years.

He has been involved in many rescues in that time, including fires, car accidents and surf lifesaving.

But when he received the phone call for help in Brisbane last January, he had no idea what to expect.

"You know, when you see something like that in person, it just takes your breath away," he said.

Mr Dean helped ferry police, ambulance and rescue workers around the flooded streets in SES flood rescue boats.

He said the most memorable moment of the experience had been the gratitude from the people he helped.

"We picked up a woman who wanted to see her house. So we took her through the flooded streets to show her that her house was completely under water," he said.

"The most amazing thing was that she didn't cry and just thanked us for showing her the house."

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