Fears for family in Queensland's floods

By Jamie Morton

Queensland's flood crisis has devastated Tauranga's Roxanne Blackley, whose three daughters, two brothers and parents are among the thousands caught up in the tragedy.
The Brisbane River peaked at 4.46m just before 5.30am today but was expected to remain high for the rest of the day and over the weekend.
This morning's peak was below the 5.45m mark reached in the 1974 floods.
The former Queenslander was rocked when her 19-year-old daughter Teegan phoned her in a "hysterical" state yesterday morning, after rising floodwaters forced her to flee her home at 3.30am.
Teegan, along with sisters Kirsty, 21, and Erin, 17, Kirsty's 4-month-old daughter Amelia, Ms Blackley's brothers Brad and Graeme Green, and parents Bill and Dell Green, remain isolated from each other in different parts of Queensland.
"It's just devastating ... none of them can get to each other now," Ms Blackley said.
Teegan is among almost 4000 people now sheltering in 57 evacuation centres across the state, where at least 13 people have lost their lives.
Ms Blackley, who works at the Bay of Plenty Times, said Teegan and her boyfriend were asleep in their downstairs flat in Goodna, on the outskirts of Ipswich, when water began gushing into their home.
"It was ankle-deep when they woke up and was running through the house. She said it rose very quickly.
"She was just beside herself, not knowing whether she'd lost all of her belongings or whether she even had a home to go back to.
"That was pretty devastating, to hear my daughter so upset.
"But as long as she doesn't do what teenagers do and go off somewhere, she should be safe now."
Earlier, Ms Blackley's father, who is ill with cancer, and her mother were taken from their farm in the devastated Maryborough area to her brother's home at Harvey Bay, where medical services could be accessed.


Ms Blackley had experienced other flood events while living in Queensland, as well as cyclones when she lived in Cairns, but described the state's current weather disaster as "just crazy". Western Bay people trapped in the chaos yesterday described scenes of panic and havoc, with one calling the situation "surreal".
Former Papamoa woman Brigid Rauwhero said Brisbane's central business district, where she worked, was now a "ghost town" after being shut down as the Brisbane River rose.
"There's restaurants, boats and caravans flowing down the river.
"Everything along the river is underwater, it's gone, it's all gone ... it's just unbelievable."
Former Bay of Plenty Times journalist Yvette Wakelin, now working for the Queensland government, chose not to drive to her central Brisbane office on Tuesday morning.
It turned out to be the right decision - the city's highways were so clogged with people trying to flee the city that she estimated her normal 45-minute car trip would have taken at least four hours.
"My boss said it was okay if I couldn't come to work and that he didn't want me on the roads. So I made the call and said no."
Ms Wakelin's home in Helensvale was not exposed to the floods but some of her colleagues were not so lucky. One could only save her dog as the water engulfed her home.
"All I could do was reassure her that there will be people that will help her re-build. This crisis will bring people together," Ms Wakelin said.
Former Tauranga woman Sarah Jensen was evacuated from her office near the Brisbane River on Tuesday.
"It was quite strange - it all happened very quickly. My office is just right next to the river and I was watching trees coming down. I've never seen it so fast. I think everyone is very nervous at the moment but everyone is pulling together."
Another former Tauranga woman, Nicola Geddes, who lives in Brisbane's western suburbs, said watching the floods just kilometres from her home was "very surreal".
"It's like nothing I've ever seen before in my lifetime."
Former Waihi man Allen Winter, now working in Gladstone, and former Tauranga man Kent Frederickson, in Forest Lakes, were further away from the flooding - but close enough to see its impact on food and fuel supplies.
Mr Winter said petrol stations were being swamped by panic-buying of fuel and store shelves had been emptied of bread, water and other items. Mr Frederickson was startled to see an Ipswich supermarket that his wife had visited only a week ago surrounded by water that reached halfway up its front window.
Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby said Tauranga City Council was not yet looking at relief funding for Queensland.
"But looking at the level of devastation, I'm sure Tauranga people will come out in support through either the Red Cross or the Australian banks, which are running appeals."
More than 150,000 New Zealanders are in Queensland, many of who are likely to be in flood-affected areas.
The Ministry of Civil Defence had received some inquiries about New Zealanders in Queensland but so far there had been no reports of any injured or missing New Zealanders, a Ministry spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, the Tauranga Parents Centre has organised a donation drive for families affected by the floods. The centre is encouraging people to drop items such as gifts, clothes, games, bedding and toys to its rooms at the Historic Village in 17th Ave between 9am and 4pm this weekend.
HOW TO HELP
People can donate to the Queensland flood relief fund through the Red Cross online and through any ANZ Bank.
New Zealanders worried for family members can also call the freephone number 0800 432 111.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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