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Grim cost of floods

ROAD TOLL: Peter Buchanan stands “in” one of his main on-farm road culverts destroyed by floodwaters last week.
ROAD TOLL: Peter Buchanan stands “in” one of his main on-farm road culverts destroyed by floodwaters last week. Renee Pilcher

GYMPIE farmers were yesterday still counting the cost of the torrential rain that created a raging inland sea at Goomboorian last week and left a man dead at Glenwood.

Crop, fence, stock and productivity losses, farm infrastructure damage and road washouts in the Mary Valley, Bauple and Goomboorian were another body blow for many rural producers already surviving on the thinnest of profit margins.

The timing of the floods, however, may have spared smallcrop growers from complete disaster, with many winter crops not yet in the ground.

The Buchanan family of Goomboorian had planted a small part of their winter bean crop and lost every plant to the huge volume of water that fell from the sky - 400ml - most of which fell in a five-hour period on Monday morning.

Peter Buchanan has lived at Goomboorian for six decades and said he had never seen anything like the speed and level of the water that tore through the district.

He is facing a $50,000 flood-damage bill on his three properties where a small inland tsunami destroyed roads, took out fences and gutted culverts, making one property inaccessible.

"I am not suggesting we are Grantham or anything like that but (this damage) gives you some idea of the force of the water that moved through here."

Sixteen per cent of the Buchanan's 285ha pineapple farm on Tinana Rd is crisscrossed with drainage, permanent concrete drains and roadways.

Much of that was either washed away or severely damaged in the flash flooding.

Yesterday, an excavator repairing some of the drains half disappeared into quicksand "ooze" in the sandy soil and had to be retrieved with a bulldozer.

"The real problem is the profit margin for most farmers these days is so thin there is no room for error," Mr Buchanan said.

On the Mary River, 60 cattle were swept away from one dairy farm in the first flood this year, though all but three were retrieved. Goomong producer John Cochrane said the three missing beasts alone represented a loss of at least $6000 to that farmer.

Mr Cochrane lost no stock but he estimated Gympie dairy farmers had lost at least 15% of their production over the two weeks book-ended by the floods.

"Every time I lose a day's milking I lose $10,000," he said.

His milking herd is the largest in the region.

"Production drops at least 20% when it's that wet and it takes two weeks to get it back."

Some macadamia farmers, who are due to harvest, suffered huge nut losses in the rain and strong winds.

Bauple grower Yolande Bromet said it was the worst flooding on her farm she had ever seen.

For information on flood assistance, phone DEEDI on 13 25 23. Anyone suffering hardship as a result of the floods can contact the Department of Communities on 1800 173 349.

Gympie Times

Topics:  clean-up, cost, downpour, flooding


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