Tales of heroism recalled
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.
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.