Village to become home for hundreds in BundyBy Eric Tlozek and Frances Adcock, Monday February 4, 2013 - 13:06 EDT
Work has begun on a temporary village to accommodate residents displaced by the Bundaberg floods.
The damages bill in Bundaberg is expected to top $200 million.
But some displaced residents say they are leaving the city, instead of trying to repair or rebuild their flood-damaged homes.
They are staying at evacuation centres in Bundaberg - 200 are at the city's civic centre, while dozens more are in a shed near the airport.
A new accommodation village is being assembled at the Bundaberg showgrounds.
It is already home to contractors, and residents are expected to move in later this week.
Emergency workers and volunteers are also staying.
They have assembled an accommodation and coordination centre at a sporting field.
Firefighter Corey Dennis says they will be helping Bundaberg residents for weeks.
"With our help and the other agencies, the army, the QAS and the and all the like we can get them back to some sort of normality as quickly as possible," he said.
Repair work is continuing in North Bundaberg as access restrictions begin to ease.
Evacuee Stephen Mortenson is staying the Bundaberg civic centre.
He says finding long-term accommodation for so many will be difficult.
"This is a mammoth problem for them and we've all just got to be patient," he said.
Ben Mockel has decided to leave the city.
"It was a sign from heaven - it said, 'Wash your old things away and start again'," he said.
The building industry is urging volunteers to be cautious when cleaning older flood-ravaged buildings and houses in Bundaberg's north.
The council says many houses contain asbestos and it is collecting rubbish as soon as it is disposed to help ease concerns.
Adam Pringle from Master Builders says asbestos poses serious health risks, and volunteers need to be on alert.
He urged anyone helping to clean up houses not to touch or disturb material with exposed fibres.
"People are sort of doing it with the best intention but they are the public basically doing a tradesman's job and they aren't aware of the long-term affects," he said.
"If they start de-sheeting the walls or stripping the floor, old vinyl tiles can have asbestos in them, hot water pipes and systems can have asbestos in them obviously when it's disturbed.
"People think it needs to be stripped because it's water-damaged.
"That's when it can be a real concern for everybody not just now but 10 years down the track, so to speak."
The army has been called in to help with flood recovery in isolated communities north of Bundaberg.
The soldiers will reinforce the efforts of SES and fire crews in Baffle Creek and other towns that have been cut off by floods.
In the North Burnett the damages bill is expected to top $150 million.
Mayor Don Waugh says the army left Gayndah this morning and the damage assessment is underway.
"The public had received them with open arms and we are getting really to the stage where we can see light at the end of the tunnel," he said.
The agricultural industry has also been hit hard.
Citrus Australia says the cost to the local industry will be more than 16 million dollars.
Queensland Health says some patients who were evacuated from the Bundaberg Hospital at the height of the flood crisis have returned home.
Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service CEO Adrian Pennington says operations are ramping up, with some elective and outpatient services starting this week.
He says patients will only return to Bundaberg if they are well and have safe accommodation.
"They're entitled to travel back to Bundaberg and that will be arranged by ourselves and Queensland Health," he said.
"Anybody who can't return directly will be put into a hotel in Brisbane to make sure that they're safe."
© ABC 2013
More breaking news
South-east Queensland residents are being urged to prepare their families and homes for four days of possible thunderstorms beginning this Friday.
Coping with drought forces some farmers to bail out while others plough money into irrigation technology
Forced out by drought El Nino as a hot dry phenomenon seems meaningless to Queensland farmers who have survived more than three years of drought.
A total fire ban is in place for most of Victoria, with forecast hot and windy conditions described as the perfect "formula" for triggering bushfires.