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$1.3m emergency bypass promised for flood-hit central Qld communities

By William Rollo, Tuesday August 27, 2013 - 09:52 EST

Residents in rural townships devastated by January's record floods near Gladstone in central Queensland have welcomed the State Government's decision to build an emergency bypass road.

The floods left residents stranded without essential services or supplies for about a week.

The State Government says if all goes to plan, that will not happen again.

Premier Campbell Newman yesterday announced the State Government will spend $1.3 million on a bypass around the section of the Gladstone Monto Road behind the Awoonga Dam.

Mr Newman says he wants an emergency road out of the Boyne Valley built within a year.

He says the emergency grade road will allow safe passage from Monto through to Gladstone during floods.

"The money is available right now, so it's up to the [Gladstone Regional] Council," he said.

"The $1.35 million for the Monto road, for the bypass around that flooding area near the dam, that is available right now.

"We'd hope the council can pick up the ball and run with it and do it this financial year.

"We're delighted to announce we're getting behind them so those nine communities aren't isolated if there's another flooding event in the future."

The section of road to be bypassed sits behind the Awoonga Dam, making it prone to inundation.

However, neither Mr Newman nor Community Recovery Minister David Crisafulli would say why the Gladstone Area Water Board is not paying.

"That'd be a matter that's up to the board if they wanted to do that, but this is a request from the council," Mr Newman said.

"We're delighted to exceed that request because it'll help those communities."

Mr Crisafulli agrees.

"The greatest beneficiaries are going to be those communities that get cut off time and time again," he said.

"This isn't about something that's going to be a silver bullet for the [Gladstone Area] Water Board, this is a silver bullet for those communities that suffer every time it rains in this part of the world."

'Cut off from outside world'

Frank McGee, who lives at Builyan in the Boyne Valley near Gladstone, says it is amazing no-one died during the record flood.

"We were utterly cut off from the outside world," he said.

He says residents in the towns between Gladstone and Monto were stranded for about a week.

"We could not walk out, drive out. We had no phones, no power, no roads," he said.

Leonie Paish operates the Velvet Waters Dairy at Nagoorin and was forced to dump 12,000 litres of milk when the Gladstone Monto Road was inundated.

She says the bypass could mean that will never happen again.

"It's certainly a good thing, it'll be beneficial for our whole community ... what it means is that if there's a passable access there, we won't be cut off for as long and that'll mean not as much milk down the drain for us," she said.

She says the bypass is a necessity.

"Knowing milk can be sold and income can continue," she said.

"From that flooding going forward it's still very difficult for us.

"Our business is probably not maybe halfway recovered, so we're still feeling the impact."


- ABC

© ABC 2013

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