Rachelle Stemm and Laurence Ryan with Ms Bligh.
Rachelle Stemm and Laurence Ryan with Ms Bligh.

Humble heroes praised

DAYS turned into night, sleep was forgotten and one thought remained in our disaster heroes’ minds – who else can we help?

It was a situation the handful of dedicated residents and public servants faced for weeks as the Central Queensland region prepared for, endured and emerged from yet another devastating blow delivered by Mother Nature’s fury.

On Tuesday night, the 35 selfless men and women were recognised for their combined efforts in the disaster.

In a community show of support and appreciation, the Emerald Town Hall’s 150-strong crowd erupted with a thundering round of applause when Premier Anna Bligh asked them to stand among their friends and neighbours.

Duaringa ambulance officer Laurence Ryan was among those honoured on the night, but he was reluctant to accept any praise.

“What we did... anyone would have done,” he said.

It is debatable whether everyone would have taken a family of six into their home, as Laurence did.

But few would have worked endlessly to support and assist not only their own community, but neighbouring towns as well.

Fellow Duaringa resident Rachelle Stemm, who works at the council chambers, defied exhaustion and personal safety when she co-ordinated food drops to stranded residents among performing other vital tasks.

“I had the access to supplies and became the central point of contact so I did what I had to do,” Rachelle said.

Rolleston SES flood boat operator Lionel Jackson said he couldn’t have worked the endless days if not for the efforts of the remainder of his unit.

“I didn’t do it alone, there were a bunch of us out there every day,” he said.

“They deserve this too.”

Despite the platitudes, our heroes remained humble and human, and as Laurence Ryan said, they “just did what had to be done”.


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