Hero recalls flood chaos
HEARTBREAK, helplessness and horrific odours are just some of the things Anthony Cassone witnessed while helping out flood ravaged victims in Brisbane.
The Kirra Surf Life Saving Club lifesaver has contacts with surf life saving in Brisbane and it didn’t take long for him to pack a boat and make the trip up.
But what he witnessed will haunt him forever.
“There are no words to describe it,” Mr Cassone said.
“You just can’t explain it.
“There were amazing amounts of water.”
Mr Cassone went to Brisbane on January 12, 13 and 14 and had to attend about 20 rescues and evacuations.
“One day you are lying in a boat trying to duck under powerlines, and the next day the water was gone and you could drive in the streets,” he said.
“I really felt for the people up there.
“Some people just didn’t do know what to do, so many people wanted to evacuate, but certain centres could only fit so many people.”
The most difficult experience of the trip for Mr Cassone was a rescue that he just couldn’t get to.
“We were working alongside another crew with a boat and our crew got called to rescue a man caught in a drain,” he said.
“I was driving the boat, and I punctured a hole in it.
“The other crew had to then be called to the rescue, but unfortunately the man didn’t make it.”
After being given an address of a rescue, Mr Cassone then had to navigate his way to it, which proved difficult when whole streets were underwater.
“I’m an ex-Brisbane resident but even I had trouble locating streets that were underwater.
“And finding house numbers from the top of a roof peeking out from the water wasn’t easy.”
The odour emitting from the muddy Brisbane streets will be something Mr Cassone will never forget.
“It just smelt like rotten cabbages,” he said.
“I was on an emotional rollercoaster after I punctured the boat.
“I really don’t have any words to describe the whole experience.”
Mr Cassone has friends in Ipswich and also gave them a helping hand.
“Their house was like a black and white photo,” he said.
The experience has made Mr Cassone proud to be in his industry.
“It was a life changing experience,” he said.
“It will be something I will never forget.
“It makes me proud to be a lifesaver.”
More than 30,000 houses and buildings were affected in the Brisbane floods.
To donate to the premier’s flood appeal visit www.qld.gov.au/floods/donate.