In the path of Cyclone Marcia's destruction
It was a really anxious time watching Cyclone Marcia pick its path, given the events of 2013 when Banana Shire had three floods within a month and the township of Jambin and the surrounding area were evacuated three times.
The memory of this was still very fresh in my mind.
Biloela was in Marcia's path and we were aware of the destruction at Yeppoon and Rockhampton, and it would hit our community at night.
I found it very frustrating as you had no control over what was about to happen.
Reports started coming in from the outlying areas to the north of Biloela. Firstly the catchment of the Dee River into which the Mount Morgan Dam was overflowing and the mine was discharging water into, resulting in a massive flow heading towards Dululu.
The township of Dululu and low-lying areas were notified to prepare to evacuate.
Next it was the Don River, with record levels of water being recorded and residents downstream were notified to evacuate.
Then Bell Creek broke its banks to the north and the south and flooded properties, with some families not having time to evacuate.
In the Co-ordination Centre we just had to watch this monster coming towards us. I was on the phone to Kroombit Tourist Park, which is situated above the Kroombit Dam, when I heard screaming and a voice said on the end of the phone, "Ron, we have been hit by a wall of water." Now we know that wall of water destroyed Kroombit Tourist Park.
We sent an SMS message to those in the path of Callide and Kroombit Creeks to evacuate and asked the media to get the message out "evacuate". I commend the media for the role they played.
It is hard to put into words how helpless you feel when you lose total communication for 17 hours and your community is hurting and relying on you for assistance.
From my own personal point of view, that is a feeling that is hard to live with.
It wasn't until the next day that the extent of the devastation became apparent and the number of houses and properties that had been inundated by the floodwaters.
In total, 63 houses uninhabitable, approximately $90 million damage to the agricultural sector, and an initial estimate of $10 million damage to Banana Shire Council infrastructure.
I can't praise our staff and the agencies enough for their professionalism and how they worked together, and the community spirit demonstrated by our residents in times of need never ceases to amaze me.
While it has been a mammoth task co-ordinating the recovery, today you would have to know where to go and look to know where the damage was.
- 165 minor (inundated)
- 73 moderate (inundated over floorboards and powerpoints)
- 13 severe
- 63 uninhabitable