Half a year has passed since the major flooding that ravaged Ipswich and surrounds.
For many residents and workers in the Greater Springfield region who had to deal with its impact, it was yet another burden after years of the ongoing COVID crisis.
Mayor Teresa Harding, in the immediate aftermath, captured the sentiment: “After the 2020 Halloween hailstorm, the community as a whole continues to be impacted by the global pandemic, and this flood is yet another challenge nature has thrown our way,” she said.
For some, however – especially those living in the east Ipswich suburb of Goodna, whose homes were ravaged by flood waters – their world has changed forever.
For them, the reminders are ever-present, and the memories linger.
But despite how easy it is to forget – “out of sight, out of mind” is the cliché – many Springfield residents are doing their best to keep remembering and to keep supporting their neighbours who are still stuck in desperate situations.
Division 1 Councillor and Deputy Mayor Jacob Madsen said, “We saw in the most recent flood events that the State Emergency Service (SES) and Rural Fire Service (RFS) volunteers were out in the community doing vital tasks such as sandbagging, re-supply, flood boat, door-knocking, and cleanouts.”
“The training these volunteers undertake includes a variety of useful and important skills that help the community and are useful in everyday life,” Cr Madsen said.
Terry Slaughter, owner of IGA Springfield Lakes, was actively engaged from the start, donating essential supplies like bottled water and wheelbarrows.
“During the floods, we supported the emergency centre in Goodna that was set up. And we gave away $1,000 worth of 20-dollar gift vouchers to people so they could get food straight away,” Terry said.
Oxley MP Milton Dick was one of the volunteers giving out IGA vouchers to residents who lost power and needed food.
“We’ve always had a good relationship with Milton. I said to him, ‘If you see someone who needs help, hand one out!’”
In May, the pair joined forces with Bundamba MP Lance McCallum to donate a replacement fridge for the Goodna Anglican Welfare Ministry.
The ongoing efforts of Samaritan’s Purse and Shiloh Church in Goodna were also praised in the aftermath of the flooding, with Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding making note of their contributions to the clean-up.
“[Their] volunteers are working their way through flooded homes across Goodna, cleaning them up ready for them to be reinstated,” she said.
Division 2 Councillor Paul Tully visited the lawns of Hillsdon Court, Goodna, for a community barbecue organised by Westside Community Care.
“Thank you to Pastor Phil Cutcliffe and all those helping today to make sure our local flood victims are not forgotten,” Cr Tully said.
Phil is a pastor at Springfield Family Church and the director of Westside Community Care, the church’s Camira-based community outreach charity. He said he is passionate about keeping the support going.
“We have been helping right through, and have barbecues every now and then… to help the families know that they’re not forgotten and that someone cares,” Phil said.
He explained that Westside has now ‘adopted’ two streets in the flood area: Parker Street and Spalding Crescent.
Phil also said he was moved by the generosity of local business network BNI Catalyst, when he informed the group of a struggling Goodna music teacher, Natalie, whose classroom of school instruments – including all of the guitars – was completely wiped out.
“She really needs a set of instruments,” Phil explained. “Shayne, one of the BNI members, is a guitar enthusiast. He decided, then and there, that he would help her reassemble the classroom.”
Shayne Guy, owner-operator of Pool Maintenance & Safety Australia, said he was instantly gripped by Natalie’s story.
“Phil told the room about her story of flooding in Goodna earlier in the year, as well as back in 2011. I then heard that the school Natalie teaches music at had only a budget of $600 per year for the subject of music. When I heard this I was absolutely shocked,” Shayne said, noting how pivotal learning music can be.
“I then reached out to our BNI group at Springfield… and we rallied enough funds to secure the money to purchase 20 new guitars [and] will present them to the school in a few weeks’ time.”
Joe and Sue Roger of the Rotary Club of Greater Springfield also continue their efforts to this day, delivering white goods and other necessities to residents through GIVIT – an online donation portal – with financial assistance from Rotary Australasia World Service.
“A lot of people lost everything. One of the ladies is suffering from some kind of post-traumatic stress disorder, and is depressed and anxious… I think they do feel forgotten,” Sue said.
She recounted an Ipswich hairdresser who is still to this day sleeping on his friend’s couch, and a lady living under someone’s Queenslander, both of whom they have been helping.
Part of the recent Ipswich City Council budget includes an extra $25.1 million for flood recovery, along with other strategies to manage the region’s rapid growth, bringing with it an average general rate rise of about 4 per cent.
“Ipswich has a long road ahead in its flood recovery, so this new injection of funding for disaster recovery will be welcomed news to our impacted communities,” Mayor Harding said.
“The Ipswich City Council 2022-2023 Annual Plan, including the 2022–2023 Budget, Operational Plan, three-year Capital Works Program, and 10-year long term financial forecast, sets out how we plan to move our city forward.”
The Queensland Reconstruction Authority recently published a State Recovery and Resilience Plan, including the Resilient Homes Fund, reserving $741 million to support homeowners through the property buyback scheme. Impacted residents can still register their interest.
Sue from the Rotary Club put things into perspective. She said that every gesture of support matters, and relayed a metaphor of two boys walking along a stream that had been strewn with hundreds of beached starfish.
“One of the boys began picking up the starfish and throwing them back into the water, one by one. The other boy asked: ‘Why are you bothering? You’ll never save them all!’ … but his unphased friend replied: ‘Doesn’t matter. Every one counts.’”