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Queensland couple lucky to be alive as tsunami-like wave washes them away on top of a water tank

Thursday January 13, 2022 - 01:15 AEDT
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Tiarna Bramich says she thought she would die in the flood water.  - ABC

A North Burnett couple say they are lucky to be alive after surviving a morning clinging to a water tank in raging floodwaters.

In the early hours of Saturday about 600 millimetres of rainfall was recorded at Dallarnil north of Gympie.

Dallarnil resident Tiarna Bramich and her partner were woken by the downpour shortly after midnight when their house began to shake.†

"We thought the house was going to take off," she said.

"It didn't look too bad outside so we thought we could make it to higher ground and then we got out along the house and then there was just this big wave.

"It was up to our hips and all of a sudden it was over my head."

The couple climbed a water tank to escape the torrent.

"We were trying to stay above water ? my feet got stuck in a fence and it kind of pulled me under," Ms Bramich said.†

"If my partner wasn't there, there is no way I would have survived that. He pushed me into a tree and the tanks were right next to it.

"We got up there, we thought we were safe and then the tank†just took off.

"It all happened in the blink of an eye."

Saying goodbye to loved ones

Ms Bramich said she and her partner called their families to say goodbye.

"We knew if we came off that tank we were gone," she said.

"We called our families and said goodbye because we didn't think we would make it off there. It was hard hearing them on the other side of the phone very upset.

"That was the hardest thing."

They fought to stay alive, before being rescued by neighbours four hours later.

"We were on the first tank ? and then that just took off, so we jumped on a second tank and then we thought we were safe," Ms Bramich said.

"It stuck for like two minutes and then that one just took off.

"Two trees fell down and the tank got stuck in there, so we didn't move."

The couple stayed put until help came.

North Dallarnil Rural Fire Brigade First Officer Max Pearce said they are unsure of where the tsunami-like wave came from.

"We had very little warning, but I've been told is that the water was flowing through and then all of a sudden there was a wall of water that came down," he said.

"It has shifted concrete tanks full of water, it shifted 5,000-gallon poly tanks full of water and probably 18 cars in the town impacted by the floodwaters.

"I've heard there are a couple of dams that let go, but nobody is saying that was what caused the influx of water."

As a local to Darllarnil, Mr Pearce said it was difficult to watch his community be so unprepared for the flood.

"When I first drove in the town, the devastation was unreal," Mr Pearce said.

"We haven't had much sleep and our fellows are working long hours. It won't be back to normal, there's a lot more work to be done ahead.

"It's a little bit hard to comprehend, [the Bureau of Meteorology] didn't get a better idea of when it was going to hit."

A counsellor with the North Burnett Community Service,†Wendy Whyatt, said without the rural fire brigade volunteers, Dallarnil residents felt they were receiving no support for flood recovery.

"They're trying to clean up but with limited services, so it's all a bit overwhelming for them all," she said.

"Sometimes they're just in survival mode, so it's hard to sort of process things."


© ABC 2022

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