Shirley Dawes and Annie Moorhouse from Booval are nice and warm at WIRAC's evacuation centre.
Shirley Dawes and Annie Moorhouse from Booval are nice and warm at WIRAC's evacuation centre.

130 stranded at aquatic centre

RUGGED up in their pyjamas, gathered around watching the telly and chatting to neighbours on mattresses - WIRAC looked like the scene of the town's biggest sleepover tonight.

But the 130 people crowded into the Palmerin Street centre were stranded and at the mercy of the Southern Downs council staff and volunteers as the Condamine River steadily continued to rise, expected to peak at midnight tonight.

Two people who were making the most of the "adventure" were Annie Moorhouse and Shirley Dawes, who were on their way home to Ipswich after spending Christmas with family in Narribri.

"We left about six this morning - we should have left at 5am because we got stuck," Ms Moorhouse laughed as she sat cross-legged in her pyjamas on the double mattress.

"We booked into the City View Motel and we were one of the first ones there so we booked two nights and got ourselves comfortable.

"But then water started coming into the motel car park and we were evacuated. Now we're at the aquatic centre and we're being fed by the Lions. We're nice and warm and things could be a lot worse."

The podiatrist - who is "meant to be clipping toes in Gatton on Friday" - said the response from council and local emergency services had been quick.

"We've been very impressed with how everyone was so prepared," Ms Moorhouse said.

"We might get out tomorrow or the next day but until then, it's an adventure."

WIRAC evacuation centre co-ordinator Bonita Tyler said 130 people - and counting - had come from as far as Sydney and Canberra.

"There have been a fair few travellers - we opened about 4.30pm and there's been a constant stream; they're still coming in now," said Ms Tyler, who added the Slade school's evacuation centre was at capacity at 140 people.

Warwick Visitor Information Centre supervisor Charee Aspinall stopped by WIRAC after closing up the centre, praising the Southern Downs Regional Council for how they had handled the day's events.

"We can't thank Mayor Ron Bellingham enough - he's been absolutely amazing, keeping us updated throughout the day," Ms Aspinall said.

Warwick Lions Club members were quick to lend a hand, cooking up some snags, water and softdrinks for the stranded and hungry travellers.

President Con Lo Guidice has been in the Rose City for 36 years and said this flood "seems to be bigger than the 1976 floods" with Margaret Sheeran recalling when the water came up to old service station where Aldi now stands at the corner of Albion and Fitzroy streets.

The Lions will return to WIRAC tomorrow to cook breakfast for the stranded residents and travellers at 7am.


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