Tales of hero­ism re­called

Townsville Bulletin - - News -

A DEEPLY moved Prince Wil­liam has met the fam­ily of Q u e e n s l a n d f l o o d s h e r o Jor­dan Rice, the 13-year-old boy who sac­ri­ficed his life so that his lit­tle brother could sur­vive.

Prince Wil­liam trav­elled to Toowoomba y e s t e r d a y t o meet Jor­dan Rice’s fa­ther John Tyson and Blake Rice, the 11-year-old who may owe his life to his brother’s val­our.

‘‘ It was a fan­tas­tic ex­pe­ri­ence talk­ing to the Prince,’’ John Tyson said.

‘‘ I wasn’t go­ing to do it, but I’m very glad that I did.

‘‘ He ( Prince Wil­liam) could feel our pain.

‘‘ You could eyes.’’

Blake said sim­ply: ‘‘ It was great meet­ing the Prince. It was a real hon­our.’’

P r i m e M i n i s t e r J u l i a Gil­lard hailed Jor­dan as a hero af­ter he gave up his life so res­cuers could save his younger brother.

Jor­dan screamed at res­cuers to save Blake first, be­fore he and his mother was swept away in the fam­ily car as flash f l oods hit Toowoomba i n Jan­uary. It was one of the most har­row­ing sto­ries of the flood disas­ter that claimed 37 lives and caused bil­lions of dol­lars in dam­age.

Prince Wil­liam was clearly moved by the fam­ily’s plight as his ‘‘ Disas­ter Down Un­der’’ tour moved to one of the ar­eas that suf­fered the great­est loss of life.

Be­fore reach­ing Toowoomba the Prince stopped off at nearby Gran­tham, where at least nine peo­ple died and three are still miss­ing.

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The tiny Lock­yer Val­ley town was in­un­dated by what Premier Anna Bligh called an ‘‘ in­land tsunami’’.

Such was the force of the tor­rent that one body was swept 80km down­stream.

Many Gran­tham res­i­dents saw bod­ies float­ing past them as they waited to be res­cued.

The Prince heard chill­ing tales of how towns­peo­ple took their fam­i­lies up into their ceil­ings to es­cape the ris­ing wa­ter, and in some cases kicked out roofs to take fam­ily mem­bers higher and save their lives.

L o c a l c o u n c i l l o r P e t e r Friend was among them, get­ting his wife Wendy, moth­erin-law Estelle and the fam­ily dogs onto their roof.

De­spite his grim tale, Mr Friend got at least one big laugh from Prince Wil­liam.

He told the 28-year-old royal he was avoid­ing mak­ing wed­ding plans and should be back at home in Eng­land help­ing his fi­ancee Kate Mid­dle­ton pre­pare for their April 29 mar­riage at West­min­ster Abbey.

Mr Friend’s mother-in-law also showed the tough­ness and hu­mour of coun­try folk.

Dis­miss­ing her rooftop or­deal, she said: ‘‘ I was more wor­ried about the dogs and how they would fare than I was about my­self.’’

The Prince met the Rice fam­ily at Toowoomba show­grounds, where he was able to en­joy some coun­try and west­ern mu­sic as en­ter­tain­ers inc l u d i n g L e e K e r n a g h a n , Kasey Cham­bers, Graeme Con­nors and Gina Jef­freys per­formed to raise money for flood vic­tims.

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