Couple’s terror in the Australian floods

Hannah Davies and Stuart Sherwin
Hannah Davies and Stuart Sherwin
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A COUPLE who grew up in this area have told of their terror caught up in the floods which have devastated Australia.

Hannah Davies, 32, and husband Stuart Sherwin, 36, were horrified when the worst flood waters in more than 100 years hit the road in Brisbane where they live.

Mum and journalist Hannah fled to safety to her uncle’s home with 15-month-old son Sam in the early hours of Wednesday while Stuart, who used to work at the Rutland and Stamford Mercury, stayed in the house.

She said: “When we went to bed on Tuesday we packed a bag ready to leave but didn’t really think it would affect us. But I woke up about 4am to the sound of a motorboat passing my house and thought ‘Oh my God, this is really bad’.

“The water was coming up really fast. I didn’t realise how quickly it could rise. The whole place is a disaster zone. It is so surreal.

“It was really frightening, especially with the baby.”

Hannah, who grew up in Deeping St James and lived with Stuart in Peterborough before emigrating in 2005, said getting to her uncle’s was difficult as a lot of the roads were cut off by the floods, which are said to cover a massive area compared to the size of France and Germany.

She said: “When we started driving to get to my uncle’s house, who lives on higher ground, we got to a main road I drive on all the time and it looked like a lake.

“That was scary. We didn’t know if we would be able to get out. We had to keep changing our route.”

Hannah’s mum Helen Davies and dad Gordon, who live in Old Priory Farm, Deeping St James, had a fearful time waiting for news.

Helen said: “I was in a real panic. I could not get hold of Hannah to check she was okay. When I did get hold of her she said everything was fine and really downplayed it. But I was telling her it wasn’t.

“I was crying, pleading with her to leave. I don’t usually get emotional but you feel utterly, utterly helpless when you are the other side of the world. I’m so glad they are okay.

“It makes you realise that possessions aren’t important, but life is precious.”

Stuart, who was brought up in Bourne and went to Bourne Abbey primary school and Bourne Grammar School, decided to stay and protect their home, which is on a hill.

His father Roger, of Meadowgate, Bourne, said he had spoken to Stuart, who works as editor of the Queensland Times, and he said the water level was dropping now.

Most of the houses on the couple’s street have been submerged in flood water, which is now contaminated by burst sewer pipes.

The city saw clear skies on Wednesday, but the damage was already done with about 20,000 homes expected to be hit by a mass of water after Queensland suffered an unprecedented level of rainfall.

Yesterday the Brisbane River was expected to peak at about 5.5 metres in the early hours of the morning and this is not expected to drop until tomorrow at the earliest.

The floods have killed at least 12 people with dozens still missing.