March 11, 2013
The water has risen to within feet of your door, your water is disconnected, all access roads are flooded, you’ve stacked your belongings as high as you can inside your house, and then you’re forced to evacuate and stay with relatives.
As well, your vineyard is flooded and your vines are dying …
Sounds like a disaster, right? But not in the eyes of the Federal Government. Why? Because the flood didn’t happen on January 26.
Diana and David Bolton, from Wooroolin, haven’t been able to access a cent of assistance or recovery funding because “their” flood occurred after the Australia Day weekend.
The Wooroolin Wetland was filled on January 26.
The South Burnett’s “Flood Event 2” (February 25) pushed the water to record levels across Sportsground Road into the Boltons’ property.
“Flood Event 3” (March 2) forced them to evacuate.
But even though the flood can directly be traced back to the January 26 rainfall, the Boltons – and their neighbours in Transmitter Road at Wooroolin – have been left to fend for themselves.
David Bolton told southburnett.com.au today they weren’t after money … what they wanted was for the South Burnett Regional Council to get Federal Government assistance to put in some “decent infrastructure” at the Wooroolin Wetlands to ensure the maximum level the lake could reach was 60cm below the current level.
His wife, well-known local artist Diana, said now she just wanted to be like everyone else. But the water is still flowing through their yard and they’re still having to use a port-a-loo.
She has tried to save her valuable collection of gerberas and hippeastrums, digging them out of the water-logged soil and repotting them. But she has no idea how many she has managed to save.
David can’t do that with his vines. He had planted a large vineyard of wine grapes with the plan to develop a “pick-your-own” destination for tourists. He has no idea how many of the vines will survive but as most are currently located in the centre of a river, the chances can’t be good.
The couple’s neighbour, Michael Cannell, helped them to leave the property on March 3.
“He knocked on the door and said ‘You’ve got to get out’,” David said.
Somehow they managed to get across the flooded Transmitter Road / Bunya Highway intersection to safety.
Diana is upset that she hasn’t been able to get any sort of official help since, despite numerous telephone calls.
She rang council on March 6 and then again on March 7. They advised her to ring the Disaster Recovery Payment Emergency Assistance Hotline (180-22-66) who referred her to the State Government’s Community Recovery Hotline (1800-173-349).
They told her to ring QRAA … who said they couldn’t help.
She then rang Member for Maranoa Bruce Scott’s Dalby office, and then Roma office, who suggested she ring Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s electorate office in Victoria. The electorate office advised her to call the PM’s Canberra office, who put her through to the office of the Minister Assisting on Queensland Floods Recovery, Senator Joe Ludwig.
“Minister Ludwig’s office listened to it all from us, and then said we can’t help you at all,” Diana said.
Not wanting to give up, she went back to Bruce Scott’s office, who suggested she speak to council …
After going round and round in circles, David by chance ran into South Burnett Mayor Wayne Kratzmann today who said he would send someone out to take a look at their property.
Their neighbour Michael is also feeling forgotten by the system.
“All we want is a bit of recognition that we’ve been affected, we’ve been disadvantaged,” he said.
- The red tape connected to flood relief funding is also frustrating Mayor Wayne Kratzmann
Listen here to an interview ( March 8 ) with ABC Southern Queensland