This is as close as Sue Sutcliffe and her sons David and Graham Kerr can get to the shops; the Widgee Creek at Harch Rd has been flooded for three out of the past five weeks.
This is as close as Sue Sutcliffe and her sons David and Graham Kerr can get to the shops; the Widgee Creek at Harch Rd has been flooded for three out of the past five weeks. Craig Warhurst

Family trapped for weeks by Widgee Creek floodwaters

A LOWER Wonga mum trapped by floodwater for the past three weeks says she owes her family's survival to vigilant planning ahead of the wet season and a well-populated chook house.

Sue Sutcliffe, her partner and her two young sons live 200m uphill of the site where a raging Widgee Creek obliterated the home of Ian and Maureen Sharkey on the Australia Day weekend.

They were among the horrified neighbours who watched the house wash away.

In the five weeks since that inundation, there have been only 10 days when Sue and her two young sons could access a shop or supermarket - the rest of the time they have been trapped on their 2ha property at Feneiks Rd.

The creek comes up and the creek goes down, but with no four-wheel drive, they must rely on the generosity of neighbours to get them across the causeway - flooded again this week - that links Harch Rd to the outside world.

The family has lived at Lower Wonga for three years and Sue now knows to start laying in plenty of supplies from November.

By the time the rains come she has enough dry, tinned and frozen food to survive two weeks of isolation.

Combined with plenty of egg-producing chooks - including the Sharkey chooks, who managed to surf their way to safety down Widgee Creek - Sue and her boys, aged eight and 10, have never had a food shortage problem.

Boredom has been another issue, though.

Graham and David have only been able to get to school in Kilkivan for two out of the past five weeks, and with no computer, homeschooling has been a challenge.

Board games and reading have been the best boredom busters. And getting outside when the rain stops.

"You have got to plan ahead when you live out in the country. Don't panic shop, just plan ahead.

"Buy a little bit extra each week. You just never know when you are going to be flooded in," Sue said.

Harch Rd has been severely eroded by the non-stop flooding and is unsafe in anything but a four-wheel drive, but Mayor Ron Dyne inspected the road yesterday and said, while it was bad, there were worse: Upper Thornside Rd and Little Bella Creek Rd to start with.

He said Gympie Regional Council staff had not yet completed a full post-flood inspection of the region's road network, so there could well be even more roads that were unusable.

With showers expected throughout the region for the rest of the week, the Weather Channel and Bureau of Meteorology said yesterday there was no indication of a major rain system heading Gympie's way.

The bureau said a low could develop along the monsoon trough over the north-west Coral Sea in north Queensland today or tomorrow, with the increased probability of a cyclone developing tomorrow or Thursday.

But if a cyclone did form it would be located well offshore, would move east, and would not directly affect the Queensland coast, the weather bureau said.

Gympie Times


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