Video: Queensland floods—“I’ve lost everything”

Part one of an interview with Wendy Smith and Lee Sheppard

By Richard Phillips
11 February 2011

In this video, agricultural workers Wendy Smith and Lee Sheppard explain what happened on January 10, when flash flooding hit the small community of Grantham, about 100 kilometres west of Brisbane. The flood lifted their rental home from its foundations and carried it 150 metres, until it was stopped by a tree.

While the couple narrowly escaped death from what is now described as an “inland tsunami”, their home and possessions—photographs, valuable china crockery and other personal items—were later trashed during the Queensland government’s “flood recovery” operations. The two were not informed that their home would be demolished. When what happened to them was reported in the Australian newspaper on January 27, authorities immediately went into damage control.

Queensland police falsely claimed that “home owners had been informed and consulted” while Lockyer Valley Regional Council issued a statement declaring that the Australian military would not “destroy/demolish a building without permission of the owner …” Smith and Sheppard are currently living in Grantham in a small caravan, which has no air-conditioning or other essentials.

In part two of the interview, to be published Monday, Smith and Sheppard explain the callous indifference of state authorities to the plight of flood survivors.

Full coverage of the Australian flood crisis