Thursday, August 24, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
As the floodwaters surrounded our communities and the main highway was cut off, both to the north and the south, much of the Whitsundays became like an island where many people were marooned and unable to return home.
Stranded without any provisions and with local accommodation quickly reaching capacity, the Disaster Management Group, operated by the Whitsunday Regional Council, jumped into action opening two local Disaster Coordination Centres.
The first site to be activated was at the Bowen PCYC on Sunday and over the course of three days 400 people used the emergency shelter, 200 of which stayed overnight.
People slept in cars in the carpark, others camped inside the centre using the blankets, linin and hot showers provided.
Proserpine Entertainment Centre was the second shelter to be opened on Monday night, welcoming over 50 people.
Mayor Julie Hall, who is also the Chair of the Disaster Management Group, said she was pleased with the overall response.
“As the Mayor, I am proud of the community who all pulled together to help people in need,” she said.
In both locations there was a staggering amount of support from local businesses and individuals who volunteered their time.
From local supermarkets delivering provisions to the pizza shop arriving with hot pizzas, individuals bringing in spare linen, homemade lasagnes and dozens of crockpots overflowing with hot food and kindness.
Stranded motorist, Troy Hankin, who had been moving from Toowoomba to Townsville with his four children, said that he had never experienced such compassion.
“I think I’ve put on a few kilos while I’ve been here!” he joked after three nights at the Bowen PCYC.
“The kids love it here so much they don’t want to leave!
“I’d like to thank all the volunteers from the bottom of our hearts – thank you for your generosity – Bowen is a great little place and we will definitely be back!”
Sergeant Michelle O’Regan from the Bowen PCYC was on the scene throughout the event and didn’t return home until 4am on the first night.
She said it was incredible to see how, what could have been a traumatic experience, turned into something truly special.
The local vets brought dog food for any stranded pets, a volunteer arrived to conduct a yoga class and Bowen Tourism invited all the children to the Big Mango to enjoy a mango sorbet.
“For a lot of the kids, instead of it being about the tragedy, it was more about the adventure!” she said.
Councillor Michelle Wright was also at the Bowen PCYC throughout the event and said she was overwhelmed to see the generosity of the local community.
“I think we’ve got six croc pots on the go out the back there!” she said on Monday evening.
“We have a really generous community and it’s times like these we realise how lucky we are for everyone to band together when needed most.”
Troy Hankin and his four children spent three nights at the Bowen PCYC shelter
Well fed pets and their owners found comfort at the shelter
Hot pizza was delivered for all to enjoy
Children ate delicious mango sorbet thanks to Bowen Tourism
Special deliveries kept on coming
The R.U.B.Y. crew