Minister tours flood-affected areas
A WHITE van sat abandoned in the middle of a Widgee paddock yesterday, surrounded by flattened grass and barbed-wire fences heavy with flood debris.
It was the van that 27-year-old Jacob Shearer had been travelling home in on Sunday morning when tragedy struck at Widgee Creek.
Wheelchair-bound Jacob, his mother and stepfather were all swept away by powerful floodwaters, and Jacob's body was not found for more than 24 hours, 300m downstream.
Mayor Ron Dyne pointed the van out to Local Government Minister David Crisafulli yesterday during the minister's whistlestop tour of flood-affected communities in the region.
It was the western parts of the Gympie region that were hardest hit by the floods.
Mr Crisafulli flew into Kybong Airport at 12.30pm, taking a bus out through the Southside, Glastonbury and Widgee, looping around to Bells Bridge and back to the Gympie CBD.
Planned visits to Woolooga and Kilkivan were abandoned due to time constraints.
The minister and a contingent of Brisbane media visited Monto, Gayndah and Kingaroy earlier in the day as part of a mission to draw attention to the plight of flood-ravaged rural communities.
"My purpose here today is to make sure the towns that are not getting all the media coverage are not forgotten," Mr Crisafulli said.
"This community has been kicked in the guts time and time again," he said.
"Queensland is bigger than one capital city and this flood disaster has impacted more than one major centre."
With $50 million in damage in and around Gympie, temporary repairs on washed out roads and bridges began in earnest on Monday, and extra road crews were put to work on the destroyed Burnett Hwy between Goomeri and Boubyjan yesterday.
Pothole crews were also hard at work on the Southside, making it at least possible to get around.
The bridges between Gympie and Widgee were open to traffic by yesterday afternoon, but Main Roads closed the Station Creek bridge at 1.30pm when it was discovered one of the pylons was severely damaged.
Driving past Attie Sullivan Park near Normanby Bridge, Cr Dyne explained how the car park, completely destroyed in the weekend's flood, had only been repaired from last year's flood two weeks ago.
"We are just trying to assess the damage at this stage," he said.
"There are still a lot of areas that have to come out of water."
Cr Dyne visited Woolooga late yesterday, describing the residents of the flood-ravaged township as "shattered".