Flooded roads force decision on the fly

The Brumby Builders team (from left) builder Gary Ward, painter Dave Webster and builder Russell...
The Brumby Builders team (from left) builder Gary Ward, painter Dave Webster and builder Russell Jenkins. Photo: Kayla Hodge
When Brumby Builders’ Gary Ward, Russell Jenkins and  Dave Webster set out for work in Piano Flat on Thursday, they never expected to be flown home in a helicopter.

The three men were working on a house when they became stranded after heavy rain  caused flooding in the surrounding area.

"The rain was just persisting down all day and probably much of the night before too but there was no thought it would have been flooding the roads," Mr Jenkins said.

Upon leaving the house, which was being built for Hartley and Karen Hay, the men  realised the work van would not make it through the flooding.

Mr Ward took one for the team and tested the water — he walked out and it came  up to his waist.

They contacted Brumby Builders owner Trevor Brumby at 5pm with their concerns.

"The water was about 900mm ...  A van would’ve floated if I’d sent it in," Mr Brumby said.

He sent his son Jeremy Brumby to the work site in a 4WD to try to   rescue his workers but he could not get anywhere near the area.

"He was about 4km away from them and then a local farmer couldn’t get through either, so I told him to get a chopper from High Country Helicopters."

The men took their van back to the work site and found shelter in a nearby children’s playground as they waited for the chopper.

"We were told to wait there — it was the place the chopper could land," Mr Webster said.

Once aloft in the helicopter they could see how much rain had fallen throughout the day.

"You just didn’t realise how bad it was until you got up there in the chopper and could look down over it all," he said.

It was Mr Webster and Mr Ward’s first ride in a helicopter.

"I didn’t mind the helicopter ride but we would’ve made do if we’d had to stay," Mr Webster said.

The three men arrived back in Gore  about 7.30pm.

Mr Brumby said it was the first time he had  had to fly somebody home from a job.

He attempted to return to the site at 7.15am yesterday but still could not get through to Piano Flat. 

- Kayla Hodge

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