An SES worker helps a family stranded at the wrecked Mitchell bridge cross into town over the still swollen Maranoa River
An SES worker helps a family stranded at the wrecked Mitchell bridge cross into town over the still swollen Maranoa River Derek Barry

Mitchell resembles a war zone

THE southern Queensland town Mitchell resembles a war zone as it slowly recovers from its biggest ever flood.

The Western Star hitched a lift on a flight from Roma into Mitchell on Sunday with local federal and state MPs Bruce Scott and Howard Hobbs and saw the extent of the devastation.

After two flood peaks one of 9.9m and the other of 9.7m, water is receding slowly but the river is still flowing fast.

Hundreds of homes across the town of one thousand people had water inside, with early estimates two-thirds of the town badly affected.  

The main business street has been flooded out with massive loss of stock.

The Mitchell Bridge to Roma has been torn to pieces with massive tree trucks strewn across the bridge and bits of bitumen strewn across the surface.

Miraculously no lives were lost but most of the town's infrastructure has been badly damaged.

Many people are still housed in either the Council Depot, 2km from town or at the State School in the centre of town.

Both centres have their issues.

The Depot is not geared up to house large numbers and has limited toilet facilities while the State School is still without power.

Maranoa Regional Council CEO Paul Bawden, who has camped out in the State School for two days, said they were looking at the possibility of moving people back to the RSL Complex and re-opening the school for education.

"We want to bring a sense of normality back to the town as quickly as possible," Mr Bawden said.

Getting temporary housing into Mitchell will become the major issue in the coming days. Hundreds of people have had their homes destroyed and will need temporary housing.

Joe Allen, 81, was among many whose homes were flooded.

He has been staying in the Depot and he told the Western Star he and his dog had been moved there on Thursday after the RSL Complex was deemed too unsafe in the rising waters.

Unlike many in the early night, Joe at least had a mattress.

"They brought that for me from the RSL," Joe said.

Rob and Sandra Cornish on Louisa Street lost most of their possessions

Rob said they packed all Thursday night and moved to relatives' place at 3am.

They were back today with friends and relatives to assess the damage.

"Our biggest mistake was moving all our good stuff in boxes to the railway depot which we thought was on high ground," Sandra said.

"That was flooded out."

Businesses on the main street have begun the clean-out of stock. Many donated their foodstuffs to the evacuation centres after the power went off.

Sandra Dodd was also staying at the Depot and she said the co-ordination was poor.

"We had to cross the One Mile Creek in flood to get there and there was no SES or anyone at the Creek to help us," Sandra said.

While there was anger at the sometimes lack of direction and authority, there was also great community spirit with the entire town mobilised to help out.

Gary and Stacey are without income as they cannot get to the roadworks project site east of Roma so they have been helping out serving meals at the school.

"This is what you have to do at times like this," they said.

Warrego MP Howard Hobbs said the people of Mitchell were devastated at such an unexpected event.

"Never in their wildest dreams would they have thought the Maranoa River would have got to that level," Mr Hobbs said.

"The challenge now for Mitchell is to get those people living in their homes as soon as possible."

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