Woolooga bowed but not broken
THE rain tumbled down on the tin roof of the Woolooga pub again yesterday as one of the oldest twin publicans in the world, and his mates, cleaned up after the town's biggest flood on record.
Woolooga has had two 1:100 floods in two years, with this year's inundation climbing more than half a metre higher than 2011.
Bowed but not broken, its gritty residents are hosing off the mud, pulling up the carpet and getting on with life.
Eighty-five percent of the town's houses were flooded on Saturday night. Families who escaped the worst of the water have taken in those whose homes went under.
THE cause of the destruction is not the nearby Wide Bay Creek, but a nameless dry gully - yesterday resembling an English garden - running between Chamberlain St and Woolooga-Miva Rd.
Chamberlain St residents for the past 15 years, Karen and Fred Hewerdine, had almost finished rebuilding after the 2011 floods, lifting their home on 3m-high stumps to clear the flood zone and be eligible for flood insurance.
On Saturday night, though, a wall of water still engulfed the home, reaching more than halfway up the walls.
Fighting back the tears yesterday, Karen recalled how she piggybacked her five-year-old great-niece to safety through waist-high water just before midnight on Australia Day.
"We'd been watching the water and thought we would be right because we were so high and the water seemed to be getting away," she said.
Karen and Fred, 70, their niece, great-niece and dog Caesar made it out the front gate to safety with nothing but Fred's medication and the clothes on their backs.
They have since been staying with their friends, Joanne and Neil Bell.
Joanne said yesterday the reaction of people to the flood was "absolute astonishment".
The shock was so great for some older residents that two had to be evacuated by boat on Sunday. Fred, who has a heart condition, was also affected.
He "took a turn" on Sunday and was monitored by a trainee nurse liaising with the ambulance service.
"It's just hard to comprehend, but it has happened. We have dealt with it before and we will do it again if we have to," Joanne said.
The Woolooga Hall, reopened three months ago after a $275,000 rebuild, was also completely submerged on Sunday.
Next door at the hotel, the third hose-out was completed by noon and the waterlogged contents of the building relocated to the main street.
About 50mm of silt had covered everything.
Bill Clark Coolee and his twin brother Brendan turn 82 in May, and have owned and operated the pub for the past 25 years.
This is easily the highest flood they have seen and Bill declared yesterday it was at least as high as the highest on record, in 1896.
Taking a break from the hard slog of cleaning up yesterday, he found a 10 cent piece on the pavement, rinsed it off under the water pouring through the leaking roof and declared with a wry grin, "I'm not broke yet!"
His mate Terry Johnston was also taking a break.
Sporting a splint on his leg, Terry explained it was broken two months ago when he was rammed by a cow. It broke again on Wednesday in the flood clean-up.
It took the pub 16 weeks to get operational after the last flood.
"The job now is to get back on our feet and go from there. I'm too old to do anything else," said Bill.