A different side to the Queensland floods

Dean Saffron, who photographed hard-hit Grantham in 2011, saw a different response to Cyclone Oswald.
By Dean Saffron November 7, 2013 Reading Time: 2 Minutes

AG photographer Dean Saffron, who snapped hard-hit Grantham in 2011, says he saw a different response to the aftermath of Cyclone Oswald.

IT STEAMED FOR ALMOST three days early this week and the wind abrasively howled, as we experienced January 2013’s ex-cyclone Oswald in Brisbane. On top of that, I was uneasy about how the Grantham community, 80km to the west, would face another deluge so soon after 2011’s destructive floods. Approximately this time two years ago, I was air-dropped into the area after the area was partially flattened by flood waters.

While reports stated that the devastation in terms of senseless loss of life was not repeated this time, I worried about the psychological impact on the community I’d met. They had struggled so hard to keep on keeping on after the first floods, and were again at nature’s mercy.

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Flooding in Brisbane CBD

In contrast, I was in Brisbane this time around, and the authorities were not taking any chances. Streets were alive with police blocking essential roads that succumbed to rapidly rising creeks. I ventured out to Breakfast Creek which is an area adjacent to Brisbane city, synonymous with light industry and famous for its pub grub.

While I was there I discovered some old ‘salties’ who told me they had seen flooding too many times, after owning a boat building operation for more than 60 years on the Brisbane River. Nonetheless, the cluster of gents operated as a crack team tying items down and moving damaged equipment while bracing themselves for further flooding.

Cyclone Oswald on the Gold Coast

Not long after, following the path of the tropical low I found myself on the Gold Coast. Being a coastal community the mood was different. Vastly different. In fact, hundreds of onlookers were revelling in the natural wonder of huge swirling cappuccino-like seas whipped by the wind lining all beaches with suds of froth. 

In the end both these locations were mostly unaffected by the 2013 weather event. However, my heart goes out to all of those that are experiencing loss caused by Cyclone Oswald, particularly the twice hit Bundaberg and surrounds, and Grantham. However, having covered both events extensively the reassuring theme that’s been repeated is that Australians always pull together during tough times. — Dean Saffron

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