We Aussies like to see ourselves as people who give others a fair go. Unfortunately there are bad apples in every case...this was on tonight's news:
Looters have ransacked a number of inundated homes in the flood-hit central western Queensland town of Emerald, adding to the woes of locals still waiting for flood waters to recede. While residents living in Emerald's northern parts have returned to their homes after they escaped unscathed, 166 houses and 97 units - mostly in the town's south - remain under water.
Police said they were investigating reports of break and enters at a number of evacuated home units between Tuesday and Thursday morning. "As the area is still surrounded by floodwaters, it is unknown what property has been taken," police said in a statement. Five complaints were under investigation but the number could rise as residents return to their homes, police said. Emerald Shire mayor Peter Maguire reacted angrily to the reports. "I think people that do that sort of stuff are the lowest form of scum," he said. "People are in dire straits and can't get to their property, and then people go out and, I don't know exactly what's happened, but people are taking advantage of those who are in those sort of situations. We'll tip them (the offenders) in the river, it's running fast enough to get rid of them."
The main road into Emerald, the Vince Lester Bridge, is set to remain closed until at least Sunday afternoon while engineers wait for the Nogoa River to fall low enough for them to inspect the underside of the roadway. The river, which peaked at 15.4m on Tuesday night, is falling at a frustratingly slow rate. It was still at 14.85m at 3pm (AEST) on Thursday. Australia Day celebrations have been cancelled in the town, with the venue still under four metres of water. However, Emergency Management Queensland (EMQ) spokesman Andy Christie said the community spirit is strong, with those who escaped flood damage responding to the aid of those in need.
"A lot of the people I spoke to, when they found their own homes weren't affected, the first thing they did was jump in their car and actually drive around to see who they could help," Mr Christie said. Supplies are currently being transported to isolated areas around the region, particularly the Gemfields district, with refrigerated trucks delivering milk, eggs, bread and other essentials to stranded locals.
Farmers along the Nogoa have lost at least $80 million in damaged crops, infrastructure and livestock. Rural lobby group AgForce will request military assistance to help feed stranded cattle on farms in the flood-hit regions. President Peter Kenny said up to 90 per cent of stock was unaccounted for on many properties, and large numbers of stranded cattle would be impossible to salvage.
"There have already been reports of cattle being washed 40 kilometres downstream while unfortunately, larger numbers of younger calves have perished," Mr Kenny said.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd came to the assistance of those in disaster-declared areas on Thursday, allowing individuals to access grants of up to $10,000, and businesses up to $25,000, to clean up and restock, under Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements. The Queensland government also opened the Premier's Disaster Relief Appeal with a $100,000 donation. The public can donate at any branch of the Commonwealth, Westpac, National Australia and ANZ banks.
Meanwhile, Australia Day celebrations have also been cancelled in Rockhampton, about 200km east of Emerald, as the city prepares to be hit by flood. The Fitzroy River - which bisects Rocky - is tipped to rise to over eight metres on Tuesday. A disaster management centre will be established in the city on Friday. Rockhampton's Australia Day fireworks and celebrations were due to be held on the banks of the Fitzroy. Gavin Steele, the executive officer of the area's disaster management group, said the expected peak of 8.2m would not cause significant damage to property.
"Part of our flood plain area will see some inundation there, probably between 10 to 20cm of water in most cases," Mr Steele said. "Most of the houses in that area are used to flooding, so their habitable areas are well above that mark."