Residents of the hardest hit suburb in Queensland's flood
crisis have begun the heartbreaking journey of returning home
to assess damage.
Police opened the Burnett Bridge to north Bundaberg residents
at 6am today.
The suburb, where some houses have washed away and roads have
collapsed into giant sinkholes, is subject to an exclusion
Residents have been told they won't be able to stay in the
suburb and will have to return back to the city's south after
They had to line up and have their ID checked on the bridge's
southern side before they were allowed to cross.
Council warned residents on Friday that 10 homes had been
completely destroyed and 30 were severely damaged.
But the looks of shock on the faces of people as they stepped
off the bridge indicated they had to see the destruction for
themselves for the gravity of the situation to sink in.
Residents were holding back tears and putting their hands up
to their faces as they saw the turned over boats, smashed up
houses and muddy cars that littered the suburb.
Some hopeful pet owners were holding small cages in the off
chance they found their cat or dog still alive among the
Bundaberg Regional Council CEO Peter Byrne had earlier warned
residents that many pets had been found dead in north
Bundaberg, but those found alive had been passed on to the
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott will fly into Bundaberg on
Saturday morning to see the damage and speak with affected
Clearly emotional residents, some clutching photo albums and
other valuables, began filtering back across the bridge a
short time later.
Meirion Roberts said he was relieved to see the water hadn't
reached the second level of his home and he brought back one
of his daughter's stuffed toys to show his family most of the
house was fine.
"We lost some things like washing machines that we couldn't
take upstairs, but overall we fared pretty well," he told
"I felt guilty seeing a lot of the other houses that were
Mr Roberts said the experience was hard, but it needed to
"I've been worried sick and haven't been sleeping, so it's a
real load off," he said.