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Gympie mops up after sixth flood in five years

ABOVE: Cody Whiteman, of Fortrus Pastoral on the Wide Bay Hwy, took this photo of a massive tree that smashed into the deck of Bells Bridge on Saturday. RIGHT: The tree remained wedged in the decking as the floodwater receded.
ABOVE: Cody Whiteman, of Fortrus Pastoral on the Wide Bay Hwy, took this photo of a massive tree that smashed into the deck of Bells Bridge on Saturday. RIGHT: The tree remained wedged in the decking as the floodwater receded.

BELLS Bridge reopened to traffic yesterday after receiving the all clear from engineers after a massive tree wedged on its deck at the peak of the weekend's major flood.

The bridge north of Gympie crosses the Mary River on the Wide Bay Hwy, and is one of several to be inspected for what could amount to tens of millions of dollars worth of damage here as the region recovers from its sixth flood in five years.

Kidd Bridge reopened to traffic last night, but damage to country roads will have to be assessed, with communities like Mary's Creek trying to cope with untrafficable wash-outs.

New Gympie Mayor Mick Curran was looking forward to his first sleep in two days yesterday after co-ordinating a slick council disaster response and recovery operation over the weekend.

Cr Curran praised volunteers, Gympie businesses, emergency services and most of the public for their organisation, patience, common sense and efficiency during what became a major flood of the Mary River, which peaked at 16.6m on Sunday afternoon.

Emergency services had to rescue two young girls stranded in a car that stalled when attempting to drive through flood water on Power Rd on Saturday, and another car had to be helped after it became stuck in flood water at the One Mile. On Sunday, two people attempted to walk across the flooded Normanby Bridge - police are investigating this incident.

But overall, Cr Curran said motorists and residents had heeded the warning "if it's flooded forget it".

"We did not get the horrific effects of Tropical Cyclone Marcia that areas to our north had," he said.

But the damage could go close to that of 2013, he said.

The region had a moderate and major flood in 2010/2011, a major event in 2012, and two major floods in 2013.

The council has not yet completed infrastructure repairs from 2013, when floods wreaked $30 million damage on roads, bridge and drainage.

"This, of course, doesn't include the impact on businesses and farmers in the rural areas who can lose stock, crops and fences," Cr Curran said.

Nineteen businesses in the CBD were inundated as a result of Cyclone Marcia, or what was left of her, and at least one home near Tuchekoi was water affected.

The recently elevated River Rd (near Central Shopping Centre) passed its first flood test with flying colours, with B-Doubles able to head south four and half hours before the Bruce Hwy reopened.

Yesterday and today, business operators in the lower CBD joined forces with rural fire brigade volunteers to begin the massive clean-up.

ABOVE: The Kidd Bridge marker shows the peak of 16.7m, although the official reading was 16.6m.
ABOVE: The Kidd Bridge marker shows the peak of 16.7m, although the official reading was 16.6m. Contributed

It will take weeks for sporting facilities to be restored, though the Gympie Touch Association plans to run half-games at least tomorrow.

Cr Curran said all council services were up and running as usual yesterday, including the transfer station at Sexton. Gympie's smooth response to the floods was in part due to new emergency software employed by the council which also had its maiden run at the weekend, Cr Curran said.

The Guardian system allowed council staff to log and follow up every call made, and for road closures or openings to automatically go online.

Topics:  cyclone marcia editors picks gympie wildweather

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