Residents of Warrawee Aged Care Service St George evacuated to Gold Coast

February 8th, 2012

After days of preparation and planning, the residents from Churches of Christ Care Warrawee Aged Care Service St George were evacuated from the flood ravaged region to the Gold Coast on Sunday 5 February.

The 34 residents were flown from St George to Gold Coast Airport in two trips – four high care residents arrived by CareFlight early Sunday morning and 30 by a RAAF C-130 Hercules, Sunday afternoon.

Touching down at Gold Coast Airport, residents were greeted by David Swain, Director – Churches of Christ Care: Grant Weaver, General Manager – People and Performance and Crisis Management Team Coordinator: a support crew; and a fleet of ambulances.

Thirty residents were transported by Queensland Ambulance Services to six aged care service providers at Southport and Ashmore, and to two Churches of Christ Care aged care services.

With water levels expected to peak at a record 15 metres, the Warrawee facility is expected to be inundated with flood waters. Warrawee staff, led by Steve McNamara, Aged Care Area Manager – Far West, has worked hard preparing the facility for water by sandbagging critical areas such as electricity transformers, lifting furniture off the floor, and packing residents’ belongings and records for transport.

Mandatory evacuations have been declared for the inland Queensland town of St George as it braces for a record flood to hit. Authorities made the call on Sunday based on modelling by the Bureau of Meteorology.

Modelling shows upstream rivers rising quickly and the Balonne River is now expected to peak in St George anywhere between 14 and 15 metres.

The evacuation of over 3000 St George residents is the largest in Queensland’s history.

Churches of Christ in Queensland CEO Dean Phelan said if the water rises to anticipated record levels, the Warrawee facility is expected to go under.

“Last year the water lapped our doorstep but it looks like we may not be spared this time. We have been sandbagging but it appears it will have little effect,” he said.

“For two thirds of our residents, this is their third evacuation in as many years. While this is a major disruption, they are all coping well despite the stressful situation. Our staff are primarily concerned with the residents’ wellbeing and safety, and have done everything they can to keep them informed and updated.

 “Moving this many people, some with specific health needs, is a huge logistical operation but our staff have done an outstanding job of providing ongoing care and support, and organising records.”

Churches of Christ in Queensland worked closely with Retrieval Services, Emergency Services and Queensland Ambulance Service in preparing for the evacuation. Dean said the emergency services have done a fantastic job.

“We are grateful to everyone who has helped us protect our facility and to evacuate our residents quickly,” Dean said.

“The professionalism of everyone involved has been outstanding – the welfare and safety of our residents is paramount and it’s uplifting to know that it has been a priority for their local community and emergency services.”

Other Churches of Christ Care St George services affected are the Mobile Children’s Service St George, Family Day Care St George, Early Childhood Centre St George, Home and Community Care Services St George, Community Care Program St George, and an Independent Living Unit.

Dean said many in the Churches of Christ in Queensland family will be affected by the flood.

“Being affected by the flooding three years in a row is hard to take and we extend our prayers and love to our staff and families affected by the flood. Once the water recedes, there will a lot of work to do in St George and surrounding areas.”

In other flood news…

Many areas in central and south-west Queensland have been affected by flood waters including Mitchell, Roma and Charleville.

Water in Roma and Mitchell is falling and the community is moving into recovery mode.