Three SES volunteers who rescued a Gold Coast family from floodwaters in the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie have been recognised for their bravery.
Australian Associated PressJANUARY 25, 20182:14PM
Three SES volunteers weren’t quite sure what lay ahead when they ventured into Cyclone Debbie-induced floodwaters in the dark to retrieve a Gold Coast family stranded on the roof of their home last April. Setting out in the pitch black, Logan SES volunteers Jim Ferguson, Chris Holloway and Claire Browning enlisted the help of locals to help them navigate the raging, unfamiliar Albert River.
Flooded in the aftermath of the category four cyclone as it made its way across north Queensland and down the east coast, the waterway had swamped hundreds of properties in the state’s southeast. In the face of the life-threatening conditions, the trio heroically plucked the Gallo family – including mum, her two children, a grandfather and two dogs – from the roof of their Luscombe home. Just minutes later, the house broke from its foundations and rammed into a neighbouring property and two power poles before becoming a trail of debris swept away by the torrent.
“For Chris, Claire and myself, this was our first ever rescue, we’d never done a rescue before, we’d never even been in floodwater before,” Mr Ferguson told AAP on Thursday. “So for us to go out … and get away with it we’re pretty happy.
“I can’t compare it with another rescue, I haven’t done another rescue and I’m hoping not to do another rescue.”
Mr Ferguson, a Logan City Council official, on Thursday received the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner’s Medal for Valour for his role in the rescue.
It is the highest honour issued by QFES and was given given to Mr Ferguson at an Australia Day Achievement Awards ceremony where Commissioner Katarina Carroll proudly acknowledged the efforts of the trio. Mr Holloway and Ms Browning were also awarded Commissioner’s Commendations.
At the time, Mr Ferguson was struck by how fortunate they weren’t two minutes slower in getting to the Gallo’s house. “Reading between the lines it was a lot harder than what we actually thought it was at the time,” he said Thursday . The floodwaters would later claim the life of 77-year-old Nelson Raebel at nearby Eagleby.