Salvation comes with brooms and gumboots
Lindsay Murdoch and Megan NeilJanuary 16, 2011
Clean-up begins ... Brisbane Markets employees at Quality Fruits start the removal of toinnes of fruit and vegetables destroyed by the floodwaters that reached to the roofs of warehouses. Photo: Andy Zakeli
BRING your gumboots, water and a healthy dose of spirit. That was the battle cry issued by Brisbane's lord mayor Campbell Newman as he rallied a ''muddy army'' of volunteers to clean up the city's streets.
''The real hard work starts today,'' Cr Newman said.
As the flooding emergency spread to five states - situations in Victoria and South Australia have worsened, while NSW and Tasmania are easing - more than 55,000 volunteers were registered yesterday to help clean up.
Many of the volunteers were Queenslanders but dozens flew in from interstate to help out.
Meanwhile, the search continued for the 28 people still missing in the upper reaches of the Brisbane River where a wall of water wiped out homes and buildings on Monday.
Early yesterday there was a glimmer of hope as the number of missing was revised down to 20, before it jumped again to 28 about midday.
The number of confirmed dead remained at 16 last night.
While few have come up with a suitable nickname for last week's disaster, the clean-up was dubbed ''Salvation Saturday''.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh chose ''Operation Compassion'' as she toured Rockhampton, where the clean-up from floods there is entering its second week.
''The Queensland spirit is alive and well on the streets of Rockhampton, in the streets on Brisbane, in the streets of tiny towns … so it makes me very proud to be a Queenslander,'' she said.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard praised the ''tremendous Aussie spirit'' being shown by the volunteers.
''The scale of the volunteering is taking people's breath away, that literally everyone is trying to find someone to help, selflessly going and helping a neighbour,'' Ms Gillard said as she toured Grafton in northern NSW, which has also been flooded but spared the tragic loss of life experienced across the border.
Offers of help and messages of support continued to pour in from across the globe.
The federal government will work with the US on what help it can offer as Australia recovers. Ms Gillard said President Barack Obama had rung her to say he was thinking of Australia ''at this very difficult time''.
Prince Charles said the floods in Australia were ''almost impossible to imagine'' and he has donated to the Queensland Premier's Flood Relief Appeal, which stands at $55 million.
Treasurer Wayne Swan, who lives in Brisbane, said the government would take its time to assess the impact. "The most important thing at the moment is to respond to those individuals, those families who are immediately affected and also to businesses,'' he said.
While the threat has passed in Brisbane and Ipswich, residents have been evacuated from the Queensland town of Condamine amid fears they could face their third flood in weeks as the Condamine River keeps rising.
Recovery co-ordinator Major-General Mick Slater flew to Dalby, which could also be flooded again.
Twenty-three thousand houses across south-east Queensland remain without power.
Many Queenslanders have been sent scam emails seeking donations for victims that appear to come from Ms Bligh's appeal website.
The correct website address is www.qld.gov.au/floods/donate.html.
How to register
Phone 1800 994 100 or see emergencyvolunteering.com.au
Ipswich City Council
Phone (07) 3810 6666 or see www.ipswich.qld.gov.au
If you would like to raise funds for the Premier's Flood Relief Appeal, send an email to email@example.com