Flooding returns to haunt the south west

In 2011, communities across Queensland experienced the worst of Mother Nature with flooding and cyclones overwhelming communities large and small.

Fast forward 12 months and the heartache and tragic loss of life has again affected communities in our state, this time as a result of the devastating floods in South West Queensland in February.

Unfortunately, the people of Roma lost one of their own in the floods. A mother of two was swept away while trying to take sand bags to her neighbour. This selfless deed epitomises the spirit of helping those in need.

Members in the South West, Warrego and Balonne Branches have all experienced flooding in their schools and homes, forcing many of them to collect their belongings and evacuate. For the residents of St George, a mandatory evacuation was issued. The residents of Charleville, on the other hand, escaped with minimal damage after the town’s levee system stood up to the force of the rushing water.

In Mitchell, the town hardest hit, 70 per cent of residents’ homes and businesses were inundated by the flood waters. The swollen Maranoa River engulfed many parts of the town. Mitchell had never experienced flooding of this magnitude before.

In reflecting on what has occurred, it is important to acknowledge the resilience of these communities, and also the important role of the local school within these towns.

As a government facility, the school in Mitchell was used as an evacuation centre for residents living in the town. The school was the safest place for people to gather during this harrowing time. The local school is more than just a learning place, it provides security and comfort – it is central to a community’s fabric.

The QTU has again activated its Natural Disaster Relief Fund for members affected during this difficult time, and has already given $21,000 to members who applied for financial assistance.

As members of the QTU, we should be proud that we belong to a union that gives back to its members during times of stress and misfortune.

Zeb Sugden
South Queensland Organiser

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 117 No 3, 20 April 2012, p16