It all comes flooding back: editor recalls 2011 floods
AS PART of closing the chapter on the printed editions of the South Burnett Times after 99 years, we have reached out to former journalists and editors to get the exclusive scoop on what it was like to work at the region’s oldest and most widely read newspaper.
Here is what Rod Gardiner (South Burnett Times journalist1996-2000) had to say:
IN 2010 and 2011 I had the privilege of being the editor of the South Burnett Times.
During this time the paper covered many newsworthy events and topics, the most notable being the December 2010-January 2011 floods.
Queensland experienced record rainfall in December 2010, and as the wet weather continued into January it became clear that a natural disaster was unfolding.
By January 14 many towns throughout the region were cut off due to a flooded and damaged road network, with emergency supplies being airlifted in as essentials ran low.
Landslides closed the Blackbutt Range section of the D’Aguilar Highway, a major freight route to the South Burnett, with road reconstruction works taking more than two years to complete. Drinking water supplies were compromised and alternative sources of hydration dried up, with local hotels at risk of becoming pubs with no beer.
Floodwater damaged powerlines, leading to extensive blackouts across the region. Farmers, accustomed to praying for rain, found themselves in the unusual situation of praying for it to stop, as crops were wiped out and livestock lost.
There were stories of lucky escapes and tragedy, evacuation and isolation.
But overwhelming there were stories of community spirit, with the people of the South Burnett going to extraordinary lengths to assist each other through this time of hardship. As the floodwaters receded, a resilience emerged.
With resolve, people picked themselves up, helped their neighbours to their feet, and started down the road to recovery.
The South Burnett Times was there to document this event as it unfolded, with staff working long hours under difficult circumstances to keep readers informed, and to call for government assistance.
As the Times moves away from its printed format towards a digital future, I hope it can continue to be a witness and advocate for the remarkable people of the region it serves.
Thank you for allowing me to play a part in recording your local history – it was an honour.