Cyclone Oswald & Flooding 2013
Cyclone Oswald & Flooding 2013. In January 2013 Toogoom residents were alerted to a category 2 cyclone called Oswald that was skirting down the Queensland coast. Residents were not alarmed at first as it seemed we would not bear any disastrous brunt of wind and would emerge unscathed by the event.
How wrong we were. Queensland from 2011 to 2013, especially the Fraser Coast and SE QLD were subjected to massive summer rainfalls that saw the region disaster declared. The rains and floods affected tourism and tourist number dropped to near zero for a period of three years.
Residents were subjected to detours, water damage, mould damage from hot moisture, food shortages and more. Electricity power was on and off as high winds and rains damaged ergon lines leaving areas without power for hours and days at times. One would never know what tomorrow would bring. It was depressing, I for one felt like I was living on an island surrounded by water that was creeping up all the time at first weekly, then daily.
The cyclone hit and started skimming down the coast so slowly, bringing torrential downfalls, peaking at Tully in North Queensland who suffered an incredible 1000 ml (39 inches) of rain in just 24 hours.
As the rain came down the coast, waters rose with Bundaberg recording 4 deaths from the event. For one of the first recorded times in history tornadoes touched down in Bundaberg and Bargara, causing massive damage in narrow swathes. On the Fraser Coast Burrum Heads and Burrum River suffered an incredible tornado that destroyed Burrum Caravan park and many surrounding dwellings. At Burrum River airport the path the tornado took was clearly visible with a patch less than 100 metres wide totally decimated, houses destroyed roofs ripped off with neighbour’s homes standing tall undamaged unaffected.
Toogoom residents reported a few smaller “whirly winds” amongst the category 2 conditions. Power was lost, foods stored in freezers were tossed out and household items damaged by wet moisture and old also went of to the tip but it kept coming.
The road to town was cut off but even more disastrously the road to Brisbane was cut meaning that the Fraser Coast suffered a severe food shortage. Those caught out were the poor and elderly who did not have a chance to stock up with supplies earlier.
The Toogoom Community Association and hall opened and started making sandbags for residents and Eric at the convenience store desperately tried to get to town for supplies of milk and bread for residents. The town could breathe again when Eric could finally get fresh bread into the town.
Overall the town didn’t do so bad from the cyclone except for the poor residents of Kingfisher Parade who found that overnight their beachfront properties had been reduced by half the size, one house losing their entire backyard. This was the start of the Toogoom Rock Wall Project, designed to protect those residences from further erosion and storm damage. There was a fair amount of tree damage and road damage around the town but overall not too many properties were over affected.
The new estate or should I say the McDermott estate in Toogoom bought a drainage disaster to the town, when the estate was first built it is rumoured that headworks money was diverted elsewhere, leaving Toogoom with a huge drainage problem exacerbated by Tidal conditions and king tides. Council bought in rules years ago that each new house in Toogoom had to be built above the flood plain. That was great for the new houses but terrible for the old houses that had now to deal with extra issues from the drain off of new houses onto their properties.
Toogoom started to recover and cleanup but the water sat still flooded, it did not drain away, residents of the Esplanade were forced to wade through two feet of water just to get to their front doors. The flooding combined with the sewerage, mosquitos and stifling wet heat made for a very stressful time for all residents of the town. Residents banded together to help each other out and organize relief for the town.
Click Below For Part 2 the Aftermath