Another cruel blow for Yasi’s many victims
THE curse of Mother Nature has rocked the spirit of North Queenslanders like never before and for the people of Ingham, Cardwell, Mission Beach and Tully it’s become one of the most challenging times of their lives. Not only have they had to contend with a Category 5 cyclone but torrential rain has now turned their townships into flood-ravaged communities and there is little sign of the weather clearing. In the cruellest of blows, it means the impending Royal visit of Prince William is under a cloud, a massive blow to those poor souls doing it tough. If ever they needed encouragement and hope from a Royal visit, it is now. Governor-General Quentin Bryce has been forced to cancel her trip to these townships this weekend as heavy rain is expected to continue to pound the region until at least Sunday. Schools have closed in Ingham, Halifax and Kennedy, north of Cardwell and in Mission Beach. Businesses have closed and staff have been sent home. Premier Anna Bligh made it clear yesterday that Prince William, due in North Queensland in 10 days, would only go to areas that are safe. Extra SES teams are arriving in Ingham and Cardwell today while a South Australian team of 18 has been flown into Mission Beach to help residents. Late last night, dozens of homes had been flooded in Ingham and Cardwell as well as nearby Kennedy and Ellerbeck. Some of these people have been living under tarps since Cyclone Yasi a month ago and they are now leaking from the wind and rain. Parts of Ingham, Cardwell, Mission Beach, Tully Heads and Hull Heads remain isolated, with 60cm of water on roads in some places. The Bruce Highway has been cut north of Ingham. It’s a heartbreaking scenario for tens of thousands of people and police have asked motorists to rethink travel plans and limit non-essential travel. For civic and political leaders, the message from this bizarre summer of weather is obvious. Our people need your help, not just financial assistance, like never before. The psychological impact of this summer of torment will endure. Enough is enough. Political decision-makers also need a binding and rolled-gold commitment to proper flood-proofing of the Bruce Highway. The dislocation to transport and travel in this region is incalculable, with the highway in its current state of disrepair. Somebody needs to put their hand up on a proper upgrade of the main arterial route between Rockhampton and Cairns. The last thing we need is a scenario in 40 years where these same transport issues around poor flood protection are still being encountered.