Donegal group safe as Brisbane flood waters continue to rise
BY PADDY WALSH
As the flood waters continued to ravage the Queensland area of Australia - 16 people have perished and sixty-seven more are reported missing - a Letterkenny man spoke yesterday of the "unbelievable devastation" in the capital Brisbane but said he and a group of friends were safe.
Rory O'Gorman was among a group of 15 fellow Donegal emigrants who were ordered by police to evacuate to higher ground in the wake of the worst flooding in the region for over a quarter of a century. Speaking to the ‘Democrat' yesterday, Rory, who has been living and working in Brisbane for the past three months, reported that he and his friends had been requested to leave their homes three days ago as the waters continued to rise.
"It's very surreal here at the moment. It's hard to describe it - the devastation is unbelievable, I've never seen anything like it.
"But we're perfectly safe where we are," said Rory, who along with his sister, Rhea, was due to move into their uncle's home in the city last night.
"We're very fortunate that we have a couple of uncles and aunts here. We're okay and we've all been told to stay inside. We're not too bad compared to many others."
Up to yesterday, over 9,000 people had been forced out of their homes while businesses have also been severely hit.
The Letterkenny native revealed that the building site where he worked in the Ipswich area had been completely flooded.
High tides are expected to push the water levels of the Brisbane river to 5.2 metres between today and tomorrow.
Panic buying has seen supplies of essentials such as bread, milk, eggs and vegetables run low. "People are fighting for the stuff in supermarkets. Everybody wants to make sure they have enough to keep them going as they're been advised to remain indoors," said Rory.
Among the Donegal contingent who were also evacuated from their places of residence were Matthew Coyle, Paul McDaid, Paul Sweeney, Michelle Shiels, Charlene Patton, Conor McCabe, Frank Butler and Diarmaid O'Doherty, all from Letterkenny, Barrie Quinn from Narin, Gary McMorrow, Conor Elliott and Mark McCready from Leitir.
Rory, son of Kieran and Maria O'Gorman, revealed that from today, Thursday, they were volunteering their services at the Rescue Centre in Brisbane. "It'll be good to help out. There are so many people who have lost their homes and as we're not working out we're in a position to volunteer," he pointed out.
Paul McCafferty from Falcarragh and Laurence McGettigan from Kilmacrenan, who are also based in Brisbane, spoke on Highland Radio yesterday of how they had been ordered to evacuate to escape the rising flood waters.
"It's really calm at the rescue centre but there are a lot of upset people who have lost their homes," said Paul.