Community help stranded locals
RUGGED up in their pyjamas, gathered around watching the telly and chatting to neighbours on mattresses – WIRAC looked like the scene of a big town sleepover on Monday night.
But the 130 people crowded into the Palmerin Street centre were stranded and at the mercy of the Condamine River as it steadily continued to rise.
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 (Monday) 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 more than 130 people 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,” 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. They cooked up some snags, and provided water and softdrinks for the hungry travellers.