Inquiry welcomed by victims

Damian Upton, Jodie Griffiths and Darlene Johnson load a boat with contents from the Upton house as the water rises.
Damian Upton, Jodie Griffiths and Darlene Johnson load a boat with contents from the Upton house as the water rises.

ROLLESTON residents who attended Monday’s Flood Inquiry have described the meeting as their one and only opportunity to make public their concerns since floods devastated the town late last year, inundating houses and destroying roads, leaving residents isolated for weeks on end.

At the top of their agenda was the need for more river gauging stations upstream and the state of vital creek and river crossings that served as the public’s only routes in and out of town.

“We’ve never had anyone come out here to talk to us so I think it was a big relief for those who went, it was good to know that someone was listening,” Rolleston State Emergency Service group leader Lionel Jackson said.

Mr Jackson led a team of dedicated volunteers on the night the Comet River rose quickly and engulfed several houses in town.

In the days that followed, his committed crew, along with members of the public, cleared low-lying, inundated houses with the use of a boat that ferried them around town.

“We got one phonecall from Mount Panorama warning us what was coming, that’s it,” he said.

“Rolleston would do much better if we had better warning systems upstream.

“Also, the money that was spent on the Comet Bridge is a waste if the Rolleston to Springsure road, and the one heading south to Roma, keep getting cut off.

“They seemed to agree with everything we said and it’s now just about seeing some action.”

For one attendee, Rolleston resident of more than 10 years Nicole Upton, the affects of events that occurred on December 27 were far from over.

Her and husband Damian lost their dream home to the putrid water. Since then, the young family of five, with three children under three, has not been able to return home.

“I first contacted our insurance company on December 28, after that they sent out a team of building inspectors and we haven’t heard a thing since,” a concerned Damian Upton said.

He said the family was grateful to Rolleston Xstrata Coal, which organised temporary accommodation on the basis that Damian was an employee.

“Without them we would be homeless,” he said.

“But coming from our decent-size home, it’s as though we’re living in a shoebox at the moment and we really need to get back as soon as possible.

“As a family, our biggest concern is that the insurance comes through... we are completely stuck until it does.”

According to the Insurance Council of Australia, insurance claims worth more than $3 billion have been approved for flood and cyclone victims in Queensland, with $2.31 billion from 49,400 claims going to flood victims.

As of March 26, $625 million of the total had been paid out, with payments to the community exceeding $15 million a day since the last financial update on February 24.

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