Daniel Erikson wiith his boat used in the flood to rescue two teenage boys clinging to a tree.
Daniel Erikson wiith his boat used in the flood to rescue two teenage boys clinging to a tree. Renee Pilcher

No regret on flood rescue

FIFTH generation Gympie local Daniel Erikson has seen the Mary River break its banks many times.

But despite the hardship that came from evacuating homes and businesses, he said the Gympie floods traditionally unified the community to survive with their lives and as little damage to property as possible.

The long-term resident witnessed the 1955 floods as a child.

He remembers helping his grandfather evacuate the family business, Brown's Auto mechanical workshop on River Rd, where the Main Roads building is today.

"I've lived in flood areas all my life here in Gympie," Mr Erikson said from his home at Normanby Hill Rd on Southside.

And whereas the nature of Gympie floods appears to have remained the same over the years, Mr Erikson says authorities have changed the way members of the community could respond.

While once there would have been at least a dozen private boats on the water rescuing residents, livestock and property, these actions are frowned upon by emergency service personnel.

Mr Erikson's boat was used to rescue to teenage boys from a tree surrounded by raging waters. They had been clinging to it for about 20 minutes when his neighbours took matters into their own hands and plucked the boys from floodwaters.

"The swift water rescue blokes reprimanded them," he said.

"I reckon it would have taken them at least three quarters of an hour to get organised. We could not wait by for that.

"The kids might have had a go at swimming and they would have drowned. We thought there was no time to alert the authorities."

Mr Erikson's boat was also used to rescue half a dozen pigs from a swamped property.

After learning of his neighbours being reprimanded by the authorities for taking his boat out in floodwaters, Mr Erikson said he would do it again regardless.

"Everybody says we can't do this and can't do that, but we have to do what we can," he said.

Gympie Times


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