Living through Queensland's floods

Twenty people have been killed and ten remain missing in the Australian state of Queensland following torrential floods that gripped the area since the beginning of December.

Twenty people have been killed and ten remain missing in the Australian state of Queensland following torrential floods that gripped the area since the beginning of December.

In the aftermath a huge clean up operation is under way and among those to play their role are Eddie Kearney of Ballymakeegan, Longford and Shane Donoher of Lisbrack. Eddie and Shane moved to Australia three years ago and work in Brisbane in the air conditioning business.

From their home in the capital city of Queensland, Eddie and Shane spoke to the Longford Leader about the flooding, the devastation and the intense clean up effort.

"The suburb we are living in is called Yeerongpilly and it was one of the ones which was widely affected," said Eddie. "There are up to 14,000 homeless people throughout Brisbane now. Some areas are like a normal city, while other parts are like a war zone.

"Everyone is throwing their rubbish out onto the street and the mud and grim is appalling. The stench from the water is terrible. It's awful looking here at the moment. Roads and paths have been washed away and the army has been deployed to help."

Volunteering has become a key part of the clean-up operation and according to Shane the community effort is inspirational.

"It's ironic what has happened as a result of this terrible event. Last Saturday, the Lord Mayor appealed for volunteers to help out with cleaning areas affected. They estimated that if they got 7,000 people they would be happy but the number came close to over 55,000 people, which was amazing.

"In a matter of three to four days, my suburb has been totally cleaned up which is unbelievable considering the damage that was caused. People have really bonded together and all helped out with whatever task they could do," said Shane who is a son of Betty and the late Kevin Donoher and a former player with the Longford Rugby Club.

"Shane and I have been volunteering too because of the air conditioning business. Over here the average house has two or three air conditioners and because many of them have been under water, they have to be made safe before they can be used again.

"All walks of life are helping out though. People are working at weekends and evenings too," said Eddie, who is a son of Brendan and Sheila Kearney.

Due to the scale of the devastation, the cost of rebuilding Queensland will be expensive.

"They are saying that it could take up to two years and each time you read the newspaper the cost of damages increases. Currently it stands at $9 billion," said Eddie.

"There are parts of the roads washed down the river, especially in the hardest hit area in the Central Business District (CBD) of Brisbane. It is a low lying area beside the river. Everyone was evacuated from there including Shane's partner Sinead. However, people are starting to go back in again today," said Eddie.

For Eddie, however, the situation could have been a lot worse in Brisbane.

"Thankfully the damage here in Brisbane has been largely material. In other parts of the state 20 people have been killed and ten are missing. Toowoomba was really badly hit. They called it an ‘inland tsunami' with a wall of water reached five or six metres in height. One woman went missing in this area and was found 80kms further downstream from where she went missing. That will tell you the strength of the current," said Eddie. "As bad as it is here, it's only buildings and roads. In other parts there are young kids living without their parents. We could have had it a lot worse. Here in Brisbane we could see it coming and plan around it. In that respect we were lucky.