Good neighbours now good friends

WHEN complete strangers start hugging each other and their eyes flood with tears, you know something big has happened.

All across the Lockyer Valley, and across Queensland this is happening.

Out of the sheer terror of Lockyer's gargantuan flash flood, many are seeing themselves, their lives and those around them with different eyes.

True love isn't just the stuff of romance novels, it has become the evident experience of those, whose lives have been transformed by tragedy.

Where once we may have shied away from conversation with a stranger, we are openly talking with each other on the street, helping each other come to terms with this shocking event.

Helen and Graham Besley were swept from their property at Grantham on that memorable Monday afternoon.

They lived to tell a miraculous story. After an unsuccessful attempt to get into their car and escape, they held hands across the roof of their now floating vehicle.

They soon lost grip and were separated, and were swept along the raging torrent.

They became snagged on the framework and managed to hang on. 

Graham can't swim and was still in recovery mode from triple bypass heart surgery.

His chest felt like exploding but somehow he and Helen kept holding on until the water level began to drop.

They then staggered out to the main road in waist-high water, barely able to walk from exhaustion and wondering if they would even make the short distance to the road.

Anthony Tonner and Brian Kearney were passing by at the time in their ute.

They were en route to Grantham, desperate to find Anthony's children and mother-in-law who he had last heard were scrambling to a roof top.

As they drove past the Wagners quarry driveway, Brian saw two figures across the paddock waving their arms in the air.

The men stopped and turned around to pick up the bedraggled, half-clothed, mud figures floundering towards them.

Anthony took them to Andrew and Claire Bramble's house in Helidon where they spent the next four days until their son John was able to get through from Brisbane on Friday.

Graham and Helen describe their ordeal as miraculous, retelling their story over and over.

“We just hung on and kept repeating the Lord's Prayer,” Helen said.

“Just a few days before the flood Graham and I were talking about culling our belongings and living simply.

“Obviously, that was a good idea and we got some help to do it,” she said.

“I've met a brother in Andrew. A true brother and I'll never forget what his family has done for us,” Graham said.

“Helidon has been wonderful to us.”


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