Gail Steele and Jo Taylor with a tray of pies at the flood level of December 27.
Gail Steele and Jo Taylor with a tray of pies at the flood level of December 27. Gerard Walsh

Bakery owners prepare for floods

THE wet weather which has plagued the region over the past week has put the dreaded "F" word back on people's lips.

Talk of another round of floods has begun circulating across the region, with some already putting preparations into place.

Steele's Bakery owners Brad and Gail Steele have begun to move stock from their Fitzroy St business into storage in case they are forced to evacuate again.

Mrs Steele said the forecast rain was "definitely worrying".

The couple were devastated when their bakery was hit hard by the last two rounds of flooding and for the first time in 25 years, they will close the doors for a few days over Christmas. The closure will allow Mr and Mrs Steele to reduce the amount of stock they have on hand so they are able to make a quick and easy evacuation if need be.

Despite the loss of business at one of the busiest times of year, Mrs Steele said the decision was not a hard one to make.

"It will be a financial loss but if it floods we will be prepared and if it doesn't, then everyone has had a nice holiday," she said.

"You can't bury your head in the sand if the floods are coming, they're coming and that's it - everyone who has been through it would be thinking the same thing."

Mrs Steele said she "hasn't stopped" checking the weather forecasts and said a repeat of last year's disaster could see the couple hang up their aprons ahead of schedule.

"We have been in the business for 25 years and this is our last bakery.

"If it does flood again it could see us retire earlier than we planned."

Neighbouring business owner Helen Harm - who was also hit hard with the two rounds of flooding - said she was not jumping to any conclusions on whether the floods would return.

"It's going to be really unusual if we get a big flood like that again, however the forecast says we're in for some really big rain," Mrs Harm said.

"But unless we get prolonged rain we should be fine, because if it stops for a day or two, the water is getting away."

Mrs Harm said she had no plans to pack up anything yet but would be keeping an eye on the Condamine River levels.

"I'm not saying it's not going to flood, I'm just saying I'm not going to start worrying about it until the water starts to rise," she said.

At a council meeting yesterday, Southern Downs Regional Council director of engineering Peter See discussed a briefing from the Bureau of Meteorology that allocated a 70 to 75% chance of higher than average rainfall this summer. He was quick to point out this also meant there was a 25% chance of less than average rainfall.

Mayor Ron Bellingham said he was impressed with the accuracy of the Bureau's predictions when made within a five to seven-day period.

He said there was as tendency to "cry wolf" after the last wet season and it was wiser to watch closely on a "week-to-week basis" than trying to determine a long-term outlook.

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