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Covering the Central Highlands
Central West Queensland

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7 April, 2021

A flood of emotions

THE recent flooding in the Gemfields had a devastating effect on locals in the area.

By Paul Albert

Kristina Timms and her partner Peter Earl helped their friend Clive clean up after the floodwaters washed through the property, destroying countless possessions. PHOTOS: Kristina Timms

THE recent flooding in the Gemfields had a devastating effect on locals in the area. 

Gemfields resident Phil Henricks said he awoke during the night of the floods to find his property inundated with water. 

“I think it was about 3.30am I was lying in bed… I thought that cat couldn’t get out… the door must have been jammed… I thought it was knocking things over,” he said. 

“I hopped out of bed and stepped into a foot of water. 

“I went into the kitchen area and went to switch the power on and no power… I could see everything floating through the kitchen.” 

Mr Henricks said he grabbed his animals and put them in the car, hoping to get to higher ground when he heard cries from a neighbour. 

“Old mate next to me, he can’t swim… he’s about 70 something years old,” he said. 

“I could hear him yelling, so I went to get him and put him up on the roof. 

“By this time, the water’s about halfway up the car doors… I opened it up, went to drive out… drove to higher ground, and basically just waited for the SES people to turn up.” 

Mr Henricks said he then saw a car across the flooding river flashing its lights. 

“This is about 4 o’clock in the morning, there’s a lot going on,” he said. 

“I was trying to wave them over, because I still had the animals in the car at the time, trying to drag the car up to higher ground. 

“The car ended up driving off… and I thought ‘well, he’s not going to help me’”. 

Mr Henricks said he saw someone across the water waving at him 15 minutes later. 

“I met him halfway and said ‘I’ve just put old mate on the roof up there. He can’t swim and the water’s rising pretty quick. Grab your boat and go get him,” Mr Henricks said. 

“I gave him a hand to put the boat in… we went to do it and he said he can’t go anywhere yet, he’s got to have other people with him. 

“I walked back over the other side to where my mates were and said, ‘he’s got to wait for his mates’ and then he started the outboard up and went over and got him.” 

Mr Henricks said the flooding left him with almost nothing. 

“I came out with a dog, a cat, and a pair of shorts,” he said. 

“It was pretty friggin’ scary, trust me… you wake up out of a sound sleep and all this is going on.” 

Mr Henricks said other locals had also lost a lot during the event. 

“It did a lot of damage… my neighbour right beside me there, he’s in the same low spot… he lost about a $60,000 Prado. 

“I lost my daughter’s Mercedes and my car.” 

Mr Henricks said the loss could have been avoided if the flood warning system had worked. 

“They wasted a lot [money] on shit that didn’t work,” he said. 

“If that alarm would have went off… I would have had a couple of cars. 

“It is a true fact that if that alarm would have gone off and given us a bit of warning, we would have been able to save a lot more gear… personal stuff… all your photos… stuff you won’t get back.” 

He said he had been staying with friends but was struggling to move forward after the flooding. 

“I can’t do a thing… it’s so depressing… you pull up, you see everything and you just want to get rid of it so you can’t see it and I can’t even get rid of it,” he said. 

He said he felt discouraged by the lack of help throughout the flooding. 

“A couple of true friends came and helped me out… about seven good people,” he said. 

“The rest of them they came and looked around out the front, took photos and drove off. 

“I’ll remember that trust me… it wades all the bullshit out… you know who’s actually your mate.” 

He said, despite the devastation, it was lucky nothing worse had happened — given  the warning systems failed to properly alert people. 

“Old mate next door… is 72-years-old and he can’t swim and when I swam over to him, it was well and truly over my head,” he said. 

“We didn’t think things could get worse… we woke up the next morning and the tree fell over on old mate’s house next door. 

“I said to him ‘nothing else can go wrong, mate’… woke up the next morning, and here’s the tree on his house… it could have gone anyway, but it fell on the house. 

“Unbelievable.” 

 Despite all he has been through Mr Henricks said he was trying to remain positive. 

“You have to laugh about it,” he said. 

“It’s laugh or cry, one or the other. 

“I know which one I’d like to do.” 

Floodwaters washed out the Rubyvale Divide Bridge last week: PHOTO: Amber Lawrence
Floodwaters washed out the Rubyvale Divide Bridge last week. PHOTO: Amber Lawrence
Stormwater washed into Andrew Jeffrey’s home last week. PHOTO: Andrew Jeffrey
Retreat Creek reached 9.8m during the recent major flooding in Sapphire. PHOTO: Andrew Jeffrey
Retreat Creek reached 9.8m during the recent major flooding in Sapphire. PHOTO: Andrew Jeffrey
Retreat Creek reached 9.8m during the recent major flooding in Sapphire. PHOTO: Andrew Jeffrey
Retreat Creek reached 9.8m during the recent major flooding in Sapphire. PHOTO: Andrew Jeffrey
Council workers were quick to clean roads once waters receded. PHOTO: Andrew Jeffrey
Retreat Creek reached 9.8m during the recent major flooding in Sapphire. PHOTO: Andrew Jeffrey
Flood waters at Graves Hill, Sapphire, just below Fossick Park. PHOTO: Joelene Mullins
Waters inundated homes and destroyed possessions across the Gemfields. PHOTO: John Long
Kristina Timms and her partner Peter Earl helped their friend Clive clean up after the floodwaters washed through the property, destroying countless possessions. PHOTO: Kristina Timms
Kristina Timms and her partner Peter Earl helped their friend Clive clean up after the floodwaters washed through the property, destroying countless possessions. PHOTO: Kristina Timms
Kristina Timms and her partner Peter Earl helped their friend Clive clean up after the floodwaters washed through the property, destroying countless possessions. PHOTO: Kristina Timms
Kristina Timms and her partner Peter Earl helped their friend Clive clean up after the floodwaters washed through the property, destroying countless possessions. PHOTO: Kristina Timms
Kristina Timms and her partner Peter Earl helped their friend Clive clean up after the floodwaters washed through the property, destroying countless possessions. PHOTO: Kristina Timms
Kristina Timms and her partner Peter Earl helped their friend Clive clean up after the floodwaters washed through the property, destroying countless possessions. PHOTO: Kristina Timms
Kristina Timms and her partner Peter Earl helped their friend Clive clean up after the floodwaters washed through the property, destroying countless possessions. PHOTO: Kristina Timms
Kristina Timms and her partner Peter Earl helped their friend Clive clean up after the floodwaters washed through the property, destroying countless possessions. PHOTO: Kristina Timms
Kristina Timms and her partner Peter Earl helped their friend Clive clean up after the floodwaters washed through the property, destroying countless possessions. PHOTO: Kristina Timms
Kristina Timms and her partner Peter Earl helped their friend Clive clean up after the floodwaters washed through the property, destroying countless possessions. PHOTO: Kristina Timms
Kristina Timms and her partner Peter Earl helped their friend Clive clean up after the floodwaters washed through the property, destroying countless possessions. PHOTO: Kristina Timms
Kristina Timms and her partner Peter Earl helped their friend Clive clean up after the floodwaters washed through the property, destroying countless possessions. PHOTO: Kristina Timms
Sheep Station Creek broke its banks in the recent flooding across the Gemfields. PHOTO: Lisa Crumb
Floodwaters rose quickly, leaving little time for residents to seek high ground. PHOTO 24: Lisa Crumb
Flood waters at Rubyvale at 6.30am last Wednesday morning. PHOTO 25: Lisa Crump
Floodwaters devastated the local region last week. PHOTO: Patsy McKenzie
Floodwaters devastated the local region last week. PHOTO: Patsy McKenzie
Floodwaters devastated the local region last week. PHOTO: Patsy McKenzie
Floodwaters devastated the local region last week. PHOTO: Patsy McKenzie



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