Five killed but brave council workers pull two to safety
WHILE the floodwaters had receded, heartache remained as the death toll from Friday's catastrophic storm rose to five yesterday and tales of heroics emerged.
THE identity of a 75-year-old man who died after being swept away by floodwaters in Burpengary remained unknown, but a tragic incident on Beerburrum Rd, Caboolture, has torn two families apart.
Tributes were flowing yesterday for 39-year-old Tamra McDonald, her five-year-old son Tyler and 74-year-old father Tony after their four-wheel-drive was swept away on Friday afternoon.
Emmett O'Brien, 49, was believed to be the man driving a second four-wheel-drive.
He also died, after his Holden Rodeo ute was swept off Beerburrum Rd along with Ms McDonald's vehicle.
As the skies cleared and a swollen King John Creek receded yesterday, a devastating scene emerged with both vehicles resting against the railway lines between Dances Rd and Beerburrum Rd.
The events that unfolded could have been even more horrific had it not been for the quick-thinking actions of council staff who managed to pluck Mr O'Brien's 16-year-old son Keegan and 21-year-old step-daughter Tegan from the floodwaters after they managed to free themselves from their four-wheel-drive.
An emotional Moreton Bay Mayor Allan Sutherland spoke with pride about council staff on the scene who saved the lives of the two young siblings.
"They said they saw a car wash away and ran up to a nearby equestrian centre to get some ropes and they managed to come back and rope the young man out," Cr Sutherland said.
"They rescued the male and then heard a person calling out, which was the young woman, and they saved her too. They were both saved with the ropes from the rail bridge.
"They (council staff) have acted exceptionally quickly and their quick actions I believe, based on the information I've received, have saved two people's lives.
"I'm just so proud of them ... it was above and beyond."
Cr Sutherland, clearly sapped after a draining two days, spoke of the suddenness of Mother Nature's onslaught, which closed 200 roads - at one stage at the rate of one a minute.
"I can't say how I feel at the moment," he said.
"It was like a nightmare.
"Today is just calm - you wouldn't know it's happened.
"I think it was the velocity that's what took everybody by surprise."
The nightmare hit home for those affected by the tragic deaths on Friday, with reports of family and friends spending most of yesterday at Mr O'Brien's residence comforting each other.
"To a hardworking and respectful neighbour and a loving father and friend. You will be missed by us all," the Black and Scott-Buchanan families wrote of Mr O'Brien.
The storm cell struck with speed and ferocity on Friday afternoon.
Across the Sunshine Coast and hinterland, 12,000 customers lost power - most in the Beerwah to Kilcoy region.
An Energex spokesman confirmed dozens of crews worked through on Friday night and yesterday to repair damage inflicted by trees and branches blown on to powerlines, lightning strikes and torrential rain.
Sunshine Coast Council Local Disaster Management Group co-ordinator Andrew Ryan said damage assessment was under way yesterday and fortunately it appeared that for the most part the property of Coast residents had escaped major damage.
"Some roads will remain closed until the water recedes," Mr Ryan said.
"There's been no major reports of significant property damage.
"We can be grateful that we didn't see any loss of life, but that's no consolation to our colleagues in the south."
Mr Ryan said it was too early to be able to estimate the cost of damage inflicted by Friday's tempest, but expected that to become clearer later in the week.