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'We drowned in silence'

The Maryborough skyline was awash with water when the floods hit and now victims want answers.
The Maryborough skyline was awash with water when the floods hit and now victims want answers. Nat Bromhead

MAJOR flaws at Lenthall Dam and break-downs in commnication were highlighted when the Queensland Flood Commission of Inquiry heard from Maryborough victims yesterday.

Bill Brown, whose chandlery on the Mary River was inundated, said communication from authorities had been non-existent and information on the Bureau of Meteorology website was outdated.

"It warned about localised flooding in Tiaro at 11pm on Friday, but I was already up to my neck in water by then," Mr Brown said.

"Some of the indicators were 12 hours old - we were lucky we didn't lose any lives here."

Mr Brown said his business flooded at four metres, while the Bureau only issued a flood alert when the river hit five metres.

"I'm already underwater then," he said.

John Kennedy, who owns the Wallace Motel and Caravan Park, said he did not receive any warnings or advice about evacuation.

"When we bought the caravan park, we were told we would get two to three days' notice of flooding, from when the waters went up at Gympie," Mr Kennedy said.

"The only avenue we knew to monitor the water levels was the Bureau of Meteorology website."

He criticised the Fraser Coast Regional Council for failing to communicate clearly throughout the disaster.

"There might have been a plan in place, but it wasn't communicated to us, and that is a big part of planning," Mr Kennedy said.

A former policeman who was stranded in Granville for a week, Graham Wode, said there was no warning the suburb would be isolated so quickly, and said he relied on media reports for information.

"I do not possess a computer, so I could not monitor the Bureau of Meteorology website," Mr Wode said.

He suggested the Bureau use manual flood gauges in addition to automatic ones, to ensure correct information was distributed.

Esther Allan, whose property near the Lenthall Dam became isolated while the dam's faulty gates were inoperable, said she found the inquiry distressing.

"I remain very concerned that Wide Bay Water did not address what the risk is to people who live downstream from the dam," Ms Allan said.

"The gates were utterly uncontrollable and could come down with no warning, which means there would be no warning for people who would get inundated downstream.

"Wide Bay Water needs to take responsibility for it."

The inquiry will move to Gympie today.

Topics:  communication fraser coast regional council


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