CLEAN UP TEAM: Celeste Nelson with the group who helped clean up Jandowae after the floods.
CLEAN UP TEAM: Celeste Nelson with the group who helped clean up Jandowae after the floods.

Flood clean up to cost millions, houses still damaged

AS JANDOWAE resident Celeste Nelson stood on her neighbour’s doorstep and watched flood waters gush towards her, she knew the town was in for a rough few weeks.

What she didn’t anticipate was the group of 20 men, two bobcats, two tippers, and hordes of helpers arriving in Jandowae just days later to help clean up after the floods flowed through the town.

When Jandowae Dam received 163mm of rain last week, the dam broke its banks and water flowed into the town, trapping residents in their houses and stopping anyone from leaving or arriving in the town.

“It was scary and it was quite huge,” Ms Nelson said.

“But the town did well in that they all remained calm.”

Ms Nelson and Domicilliary Care in Jandowae went door knocking letting people know the floods were coming after emergency alert messages reportedly didn’t reach the town.

After an emotional couple of days spent trying to gather support and funding to aid the clean up efforts, Ms Nelson was greeted on Saturday morning by the most unexpected sight thanks to Peter Gibson from GE, John Young from AGL.

“I turned up after having only two and a half hours sleep and there was 20 men standing there smiling at me,” she said.

“Those 20 blokes flogged their guts out for two days. They had two tip trucks, they were lent a Dingo from one of the locals, so they got in and they’ve done at least 25 homes.”

Ms Nelson told News some residents had likened the severity of the floods to the 1981 floods that devastated the region, but she said the town was “lucky” in the grand scheme.

Western Downs Regional Council mayor Paul McVeigh said the cost of repairs was anticipated to run into the millions.

“Council has worked closely with the community and emergency services over the past week to manage flood-damaged infrastructure right across the region, particularly in Jandowae where impacts were most felt,” Cr McVeigh said.

“As soon as it was safe to do so, Council crews hit the ground in Jandowae, with more than 100 staff undertaking clean up works including cleaning up roadways, driveways, pathways, parks, and other flood-affected infrastructure.”

Jandowae was not the only town that require immediate assistance, the mayor said.

“Crews were also stationed at other affected towns including Chinchilla, Condamine, Dalby, Tara and Warra and Council continues to work in partnership with emergency services and the SES to ensure residents in flood-affected areas have access to the relevant support,” he said.

“Council also engaged local financial support networks to make contact with affected residents and waived dump fees for residents disposing of flood-affected materials.

“All staff available have now been deployed across the region to undertake emergent safety issues due to damaged road and bridge infrastructure, however due to the widespread impacts, repairs could take until the end of the year to be fully completed.”

Among all the stress of the clean up, and the thoughts of how the town could come back from this is an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the men and women who were so willing to help.

“It’s just nice to know that someone’s got a little town’s back,” Ms Nelson said.

“Jandowae doesn’t ask for much from anyone, we just get in and help each other but this time was just too much. It was just too much.

“It was so nice to have the support from those big companies. There are no words to say thank you.”

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