Forest Hill needs action on flood levee

LEVEE DOUBTS: Ray Hawley says he’s no longer sure a levee is the best solution to Forest Hill’s flood issues.
LEVEE DOUBTS: Ray Hawley says he’s no longer sure a levee is the best solution to Forest Hill’s flood issues. Derek Barry

RAY Hawley has "only" lived in Forest Hill 10 years, so he is not yet game to call himself a local.

But Ray, who has lived in the Valley for 30 years, is a valuable member of the community and was one of many to put his hand up to help during the town's major flood on January 11, 2011.

Ray calls himself one of the lucky ones - his house stayed dry, while many others went under.

But he still remembers the day very well.

"I got a call early in the morning to say the gully was flooding," Ray said.

Ray said he immediately swung into action and got the key to open the hall.

He stayed there all day, monitoring people coming through and noting the names in his notebook.

"The hall became an evacuation centre for families, as well as for cats and dogs," he said.

As the weather worsened during the day, a decision was taken to evacuate the town and army crews arrived in Blackhawk helicopters to ferry people to the Gatton Showgrounds.

"The choppers kept coming, unless the lightning got too close," he said.

"The rain was so heavy, you couldn't see them through the trees."

Ray and a local policeman helped find people who were reluctant to leave and eventually there were only a dozen or so people left in town, including Ray.

"By about 4pm the storm was downgraded and we were given the all-clear," he said.

"So I never got my ride in the chopper."

After a quiet night, people started arriving back in the morning, to assess the damage.

"We're a little community and we took care of the clean-up ourselves," Ray said.

Ray said he was unsure whether a levee was the best solution to future flood events.

"There already is a levee in town - the railway," he said.

"I'm no engineer but I know that when you work with dirt, you often shift the problem, not solve it.

"There were 25 to 30 houses flooded. Maybe it's better to lift them up and let the water get away quickly."

Meanwhile Lockyer Valley Mayor Steve Jones has refused to progress the levee for the town until Queensland Rail take action on the railway.

Cr Jones told a Forest Hill public meeting there was no point in building a levee if the water could not get away under a levee.

However the Mayor refused a suggestion from State MP Ian Rickuss to share their flood findings with QR.

Cr Jones said QR should do its own flood work "so Council doesn't get the blame".

The Mayor said Council would send further information to Forest Hill landholders and have individual one-on-one meetings before calling another public meeting in November.

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