Emergency services flood heroes honoured in M'boro

HUNDREDS of heroes who helped Queensland cope with the chaos unleashed by ex-Tropical Cyclone Oswald are being honoured by Fire and Emergency Services Minister Jack Dempsey.

At Maryborough's Brolga Theatre on Friday morning, the Minister is recognising 262 Queensland Fire and Emergency Services staff and volunteers for their courageous work when disaster struck Queensland's north in January 2013.

The prestigious QFES Commissioner's Medal for Valour will be presented to four men - station officer Grant Feeney (Gympie), senior firefighter Denis Donadel (Maroochydore), senior firefighter Matthew Foster (Maroochydore) and senior firefighter Tony Wildman (Gympie) - for a fearless rescue mission.

"On the morning of Sunday the 27th of January 2013 these brave men entered the swollen waters of the Widgee Creek on numerous occasions to rescue two civilians and to attempt the rescue of a third," Mr Dempsey said.

"Despite the treacherous and life-threatening conditions, they placed their lives in danger, disregarding their own safety to save others.

"It was an extraordinary situation, with QFES personnel finding themselves isolated by floodwaters, which continued to rise as vast bodies of water moved across the landscape. 

"Across Bundaberg, the initial response to the disaster involved more than 1800 people being evacuated, many taken from rooftops and windows in very dangerous conditions."

Member for Maryborough Anne Maddern also praised the efforts of award recipients who were part of an army of staff and volunteers involved in the response to ex-Tropical Cyclone Oswald.

"Each recipient of an award or commendation is worthy of the praise they've received," she said.

Hervey Bay MP Ted Sorensen said volunteers at every location continuously demonstrated their professionalism.

"Their dedication and commitment to supporting communities across the north coast region was a real credit," he said.

QFES commissioner Lee Johnson said his team responded to 327 incidents, of which 46 were swift-floodwater rescues, and assisted in the evacuation of more than 1800 people.

"Our regional operation centre was open for 27 consecutive days," he said.

"QFES helped with the washout of over 1440 properties in Bundaberg, Gayndah, North Burnett, Maryborough and Gympie.

"We also completed more than 5400 rapid damage assessments in the area.

"It was a huge task, but one that was well done by our team."


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