Warning- This post is quite long
Well…….. what a week it has been!!! …….I am sure that the whole world has heard, one way or another, that the state Queensland, Australia has been experiencing the worst floods it has ever seen. It has been raining here where I live constantly for nearly four weeks, sometimes just ultra light showers with some sunshine about but a lot of it has been very heavy and no sunshine for days. Here is a rundown of what has been happening here in Gatton and surrounding areas-
On the 27th of December Upper Tenthill catchment area, which is upstream from us, had a cloud burst and our already swollen creeks received even more water. The word was that the 1974 level mark could be surpassed. Here is a photo I took that evening at Davey’s Bridge which is about 250 metres from our house-
That wee little blue sign is our 1974 flood level indicator. It did not go much higher than this thankfully! (Note how the water is free of debris…..it is a Nesquik colour, but free of debris nonetheless. Also take note of the bow wave over the concrete pylons…you will see why soon….be patient! LOL!)
The OTHER side-
This particular day there ended up being only one way out of town, and that was to the Warrego Highway and it was free to Toowoomba and Brisbane. My parents who live in Lower Tenthill were cut off and all towns past them, as was Grantham, Ma Ma Creek and Esk. But not for long.
We were treated to a beautiful sunset that evening
This water flowed through and exposed Davey’s Bridge again and we had access to Placid Hills again (a little estate just up the road from Gatton). This wee little bridge has been through absolute hell but it surprises me everytime it goes under a torrent of water that it comes out like brand new.
The railway bridge is just to the left of this pic.
It rained on and off for the next few days, the creek kept flowing but all roads were open again.
Most of you would definitely seen what happened in Toowoomba on the 10th around 2pm. They experienced Flash Flooding that has never seen before, caused by an enormous amount of rainful within a couple of hours. Some reported about 115mm. Some family and friends had contacted us and told us what had just happened so we were able to get on the internet, TV and radio and find out further info about what to expect.
As you can see cars bobbed around like ping-pong balls. I know these streets so well as I am a regular visitor to Toowoomba. They were all in the centre of town amongst major shopping centres. Toowoomba is only half an hour travel by road from our home so not too far away at all……this water headed our way and fast. Towns at the bottom of the range like Withcott and Murphy’s Creek had little to no warning of the wall of water heading their way. I cannot even imagine what these people experienced. An enormous shock I am sure. Helidon was next. This was when I saw footage of how this town was turned into a lake and David and I decided to pack our belongings, grab the children and pets and seek higher ground. We were being advised by authorities if you live in low-lying areas around the Lockyer Creek you should go. Lockyer Creek approaches Gatton from the Western side,wraps around the North and spits back out on the Eastern side. We live on the Northern side and are as I said before approx 250m from the Creek. All I could picture was this low-lying side of town turning into a lake. Especially if Helidon was. As we were packing Grantham was hit and hit hard. They were totally obliterated. Houses were ripped off stumps and floating away over paddocks, cars too. A local resident seeking refuge on his roof saw people floating down the street, approached to help and found he was too late. They were already dead.
I took a photo of the 8m wall of water heading for Gatton from Grantham at the highest point of Gatton, the water tower.
We were so very lucky. The creek that travelled around Gatton was deep and wide enough to take the water and we didn’t flood anywhere near as bad as the previous towns. But I must say, since so much water dispersed at the other towns and started spreading out to all the farm land we didn’t see as much water as first thought. We went home. We still had a sleepless night though as the water did not peak until around 6.30pm and it was reported to go just above the ’74 flood marker. It receded very slowly and David checked it every hour to make sure we didn’t have to do any quick getaways.
The next morning we all went to check the level and it had receded quite substantially. Great news! So very happy! We watched new footage on TV of most of the aftermath of the towns upstream. All of it was aerial shots as roads were still impassible from all the damage and debris. At this point 4 people were confirmed dead and around 72 missing. Most of these from Murphy’s Creek and Grantham. We just prayed for those who were missing, hoping they would be found on higher ground. Thinking that now it was time for clean up we were hit with another test from Mother Nature.
I haven’t told you this but there are two major creeks that flow into Gatton. The Lockyer Creek and the Tenthill Creek, you have heard all about the Lockyer Creek already, you need to know about the Tenthill one too. There is another catchment area up past Tenthill towards Mt Sylvia and Junction View and it all flows down the Tenthill Creek. They experienced some huge thunderstorms with very heavy rainfall of their own similar to Toowoomba’s the day before. We were in for it again. This had to be worse than yesterday, the Lockyer was still flowing and now with Tenthill Creek flowing heavily and joined the Lockyer Creek just before Gatton. Here we go again!!!!!!
We watched the creek rise, along with all the other residents of Gatton. talked to the Police and SES crews to find out if we should evacuate. They were happy for us to stay for the time being. here are some pics
In the foreground in the Tenthill Creek, way off in the distance is the water coming from Grantham and the Lockyer Creek.
Part of the Lockyer
Remember I told you to take note of the debris and bow wave over the pylons! We were only at Davey’s Bridge for an hour. This is just a touch of what was coming down that river. We counted four TV’s, five fridges (one had a snake hitchhiking a ride), ten balls (mostly soccer ones), assorted furniture, three gas bottles, eight tyres, parts of housing like guttering, a large fruit picking bin, watermelons, hay bales, enormous tree trunks, three 44 gallon drums and half a boat. All I could think of were those poor people whose homes and possessions were now floating past us heading ultimately to Moreton Bay.
See the bow wave. That should give some indication on how much faster it was flowing today compared to the 27th December. See the ’74 flood mark. It’s safe to say we went over it. Half an hour later the sign disappeared totally.
The other side.
The way to Grantham
The way to my Mum and Dad’s. I kept in constant contact with them and advised that they evacuate to higher ground as the Tenthill Creek is just behind their home and it was rising fast. They made it to safety at a friend’s place and stayed there until nightfall.
We evacuated as well went the creek was at its peak. When it receded once again we went home and continued with constant checks during the evening and had a couple of hours sleep when we realised it had dropped a few metres.
The next day towns downstream were copping it. Glenore Grove and Marburg, and straight into Ipswich. Laidley and forest Hill were flooding from another river system in the Mulgowie hills and all day while search and rescue was still happening upstream, 300 residents from Forest Hill was air lifted out and placed in Gatton for safety. The loop the choppers were doing had them circling over our house to land at the Showgrounds.
They were so low that the guy in the doorway was waving down at us as I took the photos, our whole house shook and we could not hear each other talking. We had to yell! It kept the boys quiet anyway! LOL! They spent most of the day outside watching them all fly over. There was about five different ones going past all day. It was an amazing site.
It is now the 13th. Things have quietened down a bit, but there are still plenty of chopper runs happening and of course searches for the missing are still underway. I pray they are found and of course alive. There has been too much devastation and some good news would be lovely.
Well I best be going. I have a neighbour behind us burning polystyrene in his backyard and is making us all sick. Best sort him out hey!