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Residents blame SunWater for flooded homes

TROPICAL Cyclone Marcia may have been gentle on Gladstone, but 120km west, residents are furious their homes were flooded.

When the water level in the Callide Dam reached a predetermined level on Friday night, the gates automatically opened and the equivalent of 1.8 Olympic swimming pools of water flowed over the spillway every second.

Homes were flooded and residents evacuated in Biloela, and 25 Jambin residents had to be evacuated to Biloela by helicopter on Saturday morning.

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Amanda Hicks, a nurse at the Biloela Hospital, said her family had lost everything.

She said she was worried about where she would be able to properly house her husband, three children and a fourth child when it arrives in July.

AT 9.20pm on Friday, sitting in their Tognolini-Baldwin Rd home, the Hicks family saw an update on the Banana Shire Council Disaster Management Information Facebook page.

SEETHING TORRENT: Callide dam overflowing in February 2015.
SEETHING TORRENT: Callide dam overflowing in February 2015. Emma CLARKE

"URGENT: Tognolini-Baldwin Rd residents are to self-evacuate," the message said.

Mrs Hicks is furious and says SunWater, the company that operates the dam, mismanaged the situation.

"(SunWater) should have done a slow release the day before. That cyclone warning was out for at least 48 hours prior to cyclonic conditions hitting our town," she said.

 

She said the whole town was angry, and said she believed the company should have learnt from the floods in 2013.

"SunWater let this happen to our town," she said.

"I hold SunWater accountable and it's about time they took ownership."

In a media statement, SunWater confirmed they had followed the legislated emergency action plan.

"The gates released water in automatic mode as it was not possible to commence manual releases on account of the dangerous cyclonic conditions being experienced on site," the statement read.

"The rainfall event upstream of Callide Dam that occurred as part of Tropical Cyclone Marcia is unprecedented with preliminary hydrologic estimates identifying it as a one in 10,000 year event."

Biloela police Senior Sergeant Nick Paton said yesterday that many Jambin residents were still unable to return to their homes. 

Power and telecommunication lines were also not working with many residents uncontactable.

Banana Shire Mayor Ron Carige said after the 2013 floods, he had been guaranteed phone services wouldn't be lost again.

"From my point of view, this is totally and utterly disgusting that this is happening again," Cr Carige said.

"The biggest issue we have at the moment is communication."

Cr Carige said a Telstra tower at Thangool had had a flat battery, which needed charging with a generator.

"This is disgusting that this is happening in this day and age," he said.

 

Topics:  biloela, cyclone marcia, ron carige, wildweather



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