Ten years on from the devastating summer floods of 2010, Bundaberg locals reflect on the impact, then and now.
Ten years on from the devastating summer floods of 2010, Bundaberg locals reflect on the impact, then and now.

Flood recovery: Bundy was battered but never beaten

Boats were ripped from moorings and lost to the sea, hundreds of homes and businesses were inundated and all that could be seen of the ski club was the tip of the roof as the raging Burnett River swallowed everything in its path.

The summer floods of late 2010 and early 2011 were the biggest the Central Queensland town of Bundaberg had experienced in 60 years but remarkably, the devastation was only a dress rehearsal for the catastrophic flooding that followed in 2013.

The 2010 flood, known as the Christmas floods delivered a double whammy of heartache in the Wide Bay.

The clean-up starts in Bundaberg after the flood at mid town marinas in January 2011. Photo: Paul Beutel
The clean-up starts in Bundaberg after the flood at mid town marinas in January 2011. Photo: Paul Beutel

After years of drought, the drenching rain which was at first a welcome Christmas present for the parched community quickly morphed from a promising soaking into a life-threatening deluge.

The Burnett River peaked at 7.92m in Bundaberg on December 29 but within days another downpour delivered a second flood with a 5.75m peak, washing away the clean-up efforts of the community.

While three quarters of the state's council areas were declared disaster zones in the summer floods, Bundaberg was among one of the first communities to be impacted.

As the mighty Burnett continued to rise and broke its banks, it inundated hundreds of homes and businesses, left many families displaced and destroyed sporting facilities including the town's netball grounds.

 

An estimated 70 yachts were ripped from their moorings during the ferocious flood with many not recovering.

One of the most enduring photos of the flooding is of little nine-year-old Clayton Turner wading through the flood waters on Sussex St at East Bundaberg.

Ten years later, he is now a second-year sheet metal apprentice in Bundaberg.

 

Clayton Turner wades through floodwaters on Sussex Street. Photo: Max Fleet/NewsMail
Clayton Turner wades through floodwaters on Sussex Street. Photo: Max Fleet/NewsMail

 

"I remember it pretty well," he said of the 2010 floods. "It was pretty crazy seeing stuff floating down the river like big poly tanks and even big pontoons just getting ripped away. I remember walking through the water (the day the photo was taken) and thinking how dirty it was."

About 300 homes and 150 businesses were inundated by the floodwaters. When the water subsided it left behind inches of thick, putrid mud and months of cleaning up.

Aerial Bundaberg South, 2010 floods. Photo: Max Fleet/NewsMail
Aerial Bundaberg South, 2010 floods. Photo: Max Fleet/NewsMail

 

Ironically it was the mud rather than the water that almost claimed Electra mum Gail Garrad's life.

"It was scary how much rain we had, it just came down in buckets," she said. "It was that torrential rain, day in day out of horrendous rain and whenever we went down to the river and looked at it and it was absolutely roaring. You could see it was racing past so fast. Every hour the water was getting closer and closer and that was the scariest part."

While the floodwater stopped about 1m short of the front door of her home on a small crop farm, it was the clean-up that almost proved fatal for the mum whose son Joshua was 15 at the time.

"There was mud everywhere and I was washing the floors in the house where mud had been walked in and I stood on a tack," Ms Garrad said. "It was just a tiny tack but it was enough to get infected and we couldn't get out for three days because of the floodwaters and by the time I could get to a doctor, my foot had blown up to three times its size. The doctor took one look and sent me straight to hospital, he said if I hadn't gone in I would have died."

 

Gail Garred lost her leg after stepping on a thumb tack in her home after the 2011 flood near Bundaberg. Photo: Paul Beutel.
Gail Garred lost her leg after stepping on a thumb tack in her home after the 2011 flood near Bundaberg. Photo: Paul Beutel.

 

Ms Garrad ended up in Brisbane where she underwent a series of operations, first to remove her toes, then half of her foot and later her leg was removed from below the knee. Ten years later she is now on the waitlist for a kidney transplant.

"I tell my story to as many people who will listen to me so it doesn't happen to anyone else," she said.

 

Originally published as Flood recovery: Bundy battered but never beaten


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