Robbie Radel says emergency crews have started assessing the damage in the region near Maryborough after floodwaters cut off the Burnett Highway, took out an entire town and almost added to the death toll.
Bauple farmer Steve Bottcher, 52, and a 22-year-old Sunshine Coast man have already been killed in the floods after ex-cyclone Seth dumped more than half a metre of rain on the Wide Bay-Burnett region.
An extensive search for Victorian teenager Krystal Cain in floodwaters near Booubyjan, less than an hour’s drive from the North Burnett region, is in its sixth day but may soon be scaled back.
Radel has revealed floodwaters in his region came close to claiming more lives, with the town of Dallarnil the worst hit.
“More or less the entire community of Dallarnil has been inundated, with a house outside town washed away with a man and two dogs inside,” he told AAP.
“They managed to locate him and one of his dogs. He had clung to a tree but if that branch had broken we could so easily have lost someone.”
Radel said Dallarnil was already trying to cope with the disappearance of 78-year-old local William Hetherington, who went missing in October.
“Now they are dealing with this. It’s been a pretty emotional time here,” he said.
The acting mayor said there were reports of local families sitting on water tanks for up to six hours before being rescued, with some homes still “uninhabitable” after water levels reached the ceiling.
Floodwaters have disrupted freight routes by either cutting off or damaging roads in the North Burnett area.
Radel believed locals would be hit hardest emotionally, with some farmers losing livestock with bloodlines tracing back more than 100 years.
“There are going to be some long-lasting effects emotionally for some of these people,” he said.
However he was confident flood-hit communities would band together, saying it was already on show with locals helping in the search for 14-year-old Krystal Cain.
Emergency services and volunteers in helicopters, boats, trail bikes, 4WD vehicles and on horseback resumed the search on Wednesday.
“The smaller the community, the bigger the band of helpers, particularly in stressful times like when someone is missing – that brings out the best in communities,” Radel said.
There were tributes for the latest victim, Steve Bottcher, after the father-of-five was swept away when his boat capsized on his property on Monday night.
“Steve was a very fun loving man who was always up for a yarn and some coldies,” friend Haelee Faithfull wrote on a GoFundMe page set up to help family pay for funeral costs.
“It’s such a sad loss for his family and friends and our community.”
The Wide Bay-Burnett region is still experiencing widespread flooding.
But the clean up is well underway in Maryborough, where at least 30 homes and 50 businesses were damaged when about 650mm of rain fell in less than 24 hours.
Receding floodwaters have revealed burst gas pipelines, a massive sink hole and “phenomenal” road damage but Fraser Coast councillor Paul Truscott is confident Maryborough will soon bounce back.
“I would say by this weekend in the CBD you would hardly be able to tell there has been a disaster,” he told AAP.Jump to next article