VIDEO: QFES commissioner visits cyclone zone, sees tears
The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) Acting Commissioner Katarina Carroll has commended QFES teams working hard in central Queensland following Tropical Cyclone Marcia.
"You don't realise the extent of the devastation until you get out on the ground."
That was the feeling of Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) Acting Commissioner Katarina Carroll, now the State Disaster Recovery Coordinator, following her visit to the cyclone-ravaged communities of Byfield and Yeppoon yesterday.
"You get touched when you see people extremely emotional. They haven't only lost their homes, they've lost their livelihoods," Ms Carroll said.
"You see people who are usually so resilient in tears."
Ms Carroll toured the region yesterday with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services Jo-Ann Miller, visiting schools in Rockhampton, attending the Byfield community meeting and meeting residents in Yeppoon.
"I've been going from centre to centre to see what our staff and volunteers are doing on the ground," she said.
"I spoke to a number of people from QFES whose homes are severely damaged too, and yet here they are helping others first.
"What I have been extremely pleased about is seeing the way our urban firefighters, rural firefighters and SES volunteers are working so well together and with other agencies like police, community recovery teams and the army to get these areas back together."
Livingstone SES deputy controller Warren Spreadborough said the Byfield community was on par with the worst affected areas and was one of the first to be isolated and without power due to the destruction caused by Tropical Cyclone Marcia.
"They're country people here, they're resilient, they get a shock but they get on with it," he said.
"The strength of the cyclone caught us by surprise and even from the road it is hard to tell the extent of the devastation of the homes behind the trees."
Byfield resident Willy Newman said yesterday it was great to see all the emergency services and support agencies in their small town.
"It's good to see them, we see them on the TV sometimes," Mrs Newman said.
"Here we were buried under a mountain of green leaves and now we're overwhelmed by the support."
QFES Urban Search and Rescue teams are working in the Byfield are and are expected to complete rapid damage assessment today.
Firefighter Brett Williams said the damage was more extensive than originally thought.
"We worked here on Monday and expected to be done within a day but there were so many damaged properties to get to," Mr Williams said.
"We are back on the ground and expect to be finished Wednesday evening if all goes well."