Sandy and Bevan Eyles from Western Australia, team leader Bob Zerbel from Brisbane (but who has not been home for three years) and Murgon farmer James Mitchell take a break from removing flood debris that has piled against the fence.
Sandy and Bevan Eyles from Western Australia, team leader Bob Zerbel from Brisbane (but who has not been home for three years) and Murgon farmer James Mitchell take a break from removing flood debris that has piled against the fence.

Help to fix flood damage

FOR many people the floods of a few months ago are just a memory. But those who were affected by land and property damage are still very much in repair mode.

Riverfront landholders in the Sexton area were badly affected by flood damage to fencing and infrastructure. Landholder Jan Cotter knew of the BlazeAid volunteer group and contacted them on behalf of four other farms in the area.

BlazeAid is a volunteer organisation that carries out repair work on affected farms. Most of its work has to do with fence repairs and it was to this task that a small group devoted its time on Colleen O'Leary's farm at Sexton.

The property has two flood watercourses running through the river flat area as the flooded Mary River takes shortcuts on its way downstream.

BlazeAid has a base camp at Murgon, with a co-ordinator who allocates jobs and farms to those available on a given day.

Co-ordinator Paul Mortenson said many volunteers were in the "grey nomad" class, touring around Australia and deciding they could help in a small way to get farmers back on their feet, after losses from natural disasters.

Mr Mortenson said the Murgon camp included free accommodation in the caravan park and meals provided by community groups, such as Salvation Army and Lions and others.

On the O'Leary farm, a crew was busy removing large amounts of flood debris from fence lines, so the fence could be stood up or replaced.

In some cases, this debris is burnt but in other instances, it carries too much silt to burn.

Volunteer skills are put to good use and team leader Bob Zirbel was expertly welding metal gate supports.

The previous day, the same team had been working on Roger and Annette Bambling's property at Scotchy Pocket.

Mr Mortenson said all costs, such as fuel and transport to farm gate, was covered by donations and in kind from local businesses.

He said the Murgon camp was strongly supported by BGA at Kingaroy, Murgon and Goomeri, Murgon Tyre and Auto and Clifton Motors.

To date, 93 regional properties have registered for assistance with work started on 71, though some farms are still too wet on which to work. Sexton volunteers came from Brisbane and had been touring for four years; another came from Western Australia, and one from a farm at Murgon, who had some flood damage but wanted to help those considerably worse off.

An example of the sort of help that is given was a welding works in Victoria that built and donated 100 special rakes that could be used for clearing firebreaks or removing rubbish from along fencelines.



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