Ex-pats tell of Aussie floods devastation

HALIFAX ex-pats have been hit by the devastating floods that have swept Australia.

Vikki Howard, originally from Copley, has told how her office in the Queensland town of Goodna was swamped by the rising water.

"Where I work basically disappeared," said the 40-year-old, who emigrated five years ago with husband Steven and their sons Daniel, 14, and Thomas, 12.

"We were evacuated on Tuesday morning and by Tuesday night it just went under. It was just gone – the whole town, not just our office. Everywhere."

"I've never seen anything like it first-hand. It's horrendous. There were people crying everywhere, people carrying their possessions in boxes, houses that all you could see were the rooftops, motorways gone, train lines gone, everything."

Yesterday 15 people were confirmed to have died in the torrents with dozens more still missing.

Around 30,000 homes and 5,000 businesses have been flooded in and around the state capital of Brisbane – the country's third-largest city.

Vikki's home, on a hill in Springfield Lakes, is safe, but her colleagues and friends have not all been as lucky.

"I spent all of yesterday crying. So many people have lost everything," she said.

Opera singer Matthew Broadbent, from Queen's Road, Halifax, and his Australian wife Emma are about to fly home to Bellbowrie after spending the New Year in Calderdale.

The Brisbane suburb has been completely cut off, with no power or running water. The couple's cul-de-sac has been evacuated and their house – where their four cats remain – is surrounded by water.

"There's just so little in the way of words to describe what this feels like, wondering constantly if the cats are okay, and the house," said Emma.

"I heard our local supermarket, which is now underwater, was actually the scene of a riot.

"Folk have been panic-buying and fighting each other for the last stock on shelves. There was no fruit and vegetables for sale – and most of the tinned food and water had gone.

"By now, there'd be nothing left. We are prepared to consider that no food will be available at all when we return.

"I cannot imagine what the devastation is like back at home."

The flooding reached its peak at 4am local time on Wednesday when the Brisbane River rose to 15ft.

* Has anyone you know been affected by the disaster? Email your stories to newsdesk@halifaxcourier.co.uk