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PM tours flooded Bundaberg as clean-up continues

Thursday January 31, 2013 - 19:06 EDT
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Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan visit a Bundaberg evacuation centre today - ABC

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has seen some of the flood damage in Queensland first-hand and announced more disaster relief funding.

Julia Gillard today toured flood and tornado-devastated communities in the state, including Bundaberg, Bargara and Burnett Heads.

"We have had an amazing day, an amazing experience, whether it has been talking to Terri at the evacuation centre, who lost her house, but just wanted to tell me what a great job the Red Cross volunteers were doing," she said.

"Whether it has been at Bargara, seeing the bowling club that was literally ripped apart in a 10-second tornado.

"Right around we have seen some remarkable sights."

Ms Gillard says the Federal Government will contribute $1 million to the Queensland flood appeal.



She also says residents in 50 Queensland regions and 10 in New South Wales could be eligible for disaster payments.

Personal loans are also available to affected farmers and small businesses.

"In addition, as a Federal Government we have triggered what is called the Australian Government disaster relief payment for here and Bundaberg and as necessary, we will make the payment available as communities around Bundaberg also move into recovery," Ms Gillard said.

"This is a payment to give people a first instance assistance of $1,000, so that they can deal with the emergency costs they face when they are out of their homes, when there is severe damage to their homes."

Ms Gillard says donations will be tax deductable.



Reconstruction

Earlier today, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said the state's second-highest ranking police officer had been appointed to lead the flood reconstruction effort around Bundaberg.

Deputy Commissioner Brett Pointing will head the state's disaster authority charged with leading the recovery after floods swept down the coast, leaving a trail of destruction and a damage bill of nearly $200 million.

Huge areas of Bundaberg are covered in stinking mud and the receding waters are revealing scenes of devastation.

Business owner Wendy Redshaw says the scene is overwhelming.

"It's just all full of mud and sludge it smells like a piggery. It's just quite disgusting."

Thousands of residents will not be allowed into their houses until they are declared safe.

Business owner Ken Aaron is sceptical of the visits by Ms Gillard and Mr Newman.

"I think their major priority to be honest is the election coming up," he told The World Today.

"They want to be seen at the right place at the right time.

"I don't need any politicians around here. All I need is some people with some help. If they want to come down and roll up their sleeves, put on these swim togs and come in and give us a hand I'd probably appreciate it."

Eastern and northern parts of the city are still under water and an exclusion zone has been set up.

Business owner Julia Horton says she is shocked by the amount of water that inundated the local school.

"It is decimated. Fortunately, I guess, it??s mostly the playground but it's very smell, very ugly and very brown. There's just no colour over there at all."


- ABC

© ABC 2013

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