Flood's victims forced to wait

Thirty-five people died when more than 70 per cent of Queensland flooded in January.
Thirty-five people died when more than 70 per cent of Queensland flooded in January. Kyla Story

THE bodies of those killed in Queensland's summer of floods have been returned home but their families will have to wait until February for answers as to whether lives could have been saved.

Thirty-five people died when more than 70 per cent of Queensland flooded in January.

The Queensland Coroner's office warned in January it would be several months before all of the bodies, particularly those from the Lockyer Valley, could be released for burial.

A spokeswoman for the office has confirmed most of the bodies have now been returned and the families have been advised of how their loved ones died, as well as when and where they died.

But it will be up to the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry, which will hand down its final report in February, to determine if any systemic issues contributed to their deaths, and what could be done differently to prevent deaths during future natural disasters.

Member for Lockyer Ian Rickuss said his sympathies went out to all grieving families.

"It is unfortunate that people who are grieving have got to have delays but this Flood Commission of Inquiry is doing a very comprehensive job trying to work out how we can improve the system," he said.

Pastor Rob Farr from Murphys Creek Presbyterian Church in the Lockyer Valley, where flash floods on January 10 claimed 20 lives, said many of those left behind would struggle to move forward without answers.

"There's no way you can come to grips with it until you've settled things in your own mind either by accepting that there's things you'll never know, or by getting the answers you need to get," he said.

In its interim report, released in August, the commission made several recommendations to prevent future deaths, including a public education campaign about the dangers of driving in floodwaters.

The commission found more frequent disaster management meetings at Lockyer Valley council would not have prevented the deaths, and it would not have been possible to give people in the towns of Spring Bluff and Murphys Creek greater warning given the strength and speed of the rising water.

A number of the coroner's investigations had not been concluded by the time the interim report was delivered.

The second round of inquiry hearings will start in Brisbane on Monday.

Topics:  floods queensland floods commission of inquiry

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