17 June 2024

‘Miraculous delivery’ for far north Queensland residents, church buildings

Floods in far north Queensland. Picture: Queensland Emergency Services

Elspeth Kernebone

19 December 2023

God has answered prayer in Northern Queensland as most people emerge unhurt from heavy floods driven by Tropical Cyclone Jasper.

North Queensland Anglicans say there has been little damage to church buildings and most priests’ and parishioners’ homes remain intact.

Heavy rains have flooded Cairns and other parts of far north Queensland this week in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Jasper, causing evacuation of a Cairns suburb and at least one rural community.

Bishop of North Queensland Keith Joseph said one Cairns parish priest had lost her home in Holloways Beach, escaping with only two sets of clothes, her son, and two dogs. He said a few members of Anglican churches’ homes were also flooded in the same suburb.

Read more: Anglican leaders focused on community recovery as flood trauma persists

But Bishop Joseph said most priests had reported that they were safe, well and their homes were intact.

He said the biggest disruption from the floods would be to community life, with impassable roads and low water supplies causing strain.

Bishop Joseph said he was also concerned for the welfare of communities cut off by flooding, such as Cooktown and Wujal Wujal, if they were low on food and water.

He said he was also concerned about the floods’ effects on homeless people in Cairns who would suffer if food prices rose.

But Bishop Joseph said the cyclone only caused light damage to church buildings, while the flooding spared nearly all buildings.

He said given the scale of the floods it was a magnificent achievement by emergency services to not have fatalities.

No deaths caused by the floods had been reported by 5pm Tuesday.

“A lot of prayers have been answered. I’m very grateful a lot of people have been praying, the results have almost been miraculous,” Bishop Joseph said.

“We are relieved and thankful that the damage appears to be fairly light.”

Queensland Police Service commissioner Katarina Carroll thanked emergency services and community members for extraordinary rescues they performed during the flooding.

She said the community had also been outstanding at heeding emergency warnings.

Queensland Premier Steven Miles said some parts of Queensland received more than 2000 millimetres of rain in seven days.

He said the public had taken part in heroic rescues of people affected by floods.

“We have continued to see acts of bravery from frontline workers, and local heroes, local volunteers,” Mr Miles said.

“We continue to see [far north Queenslanders] supporting their neighbours and getting on with the job of cleaning up from this disaster.”

Bishop Joseph said the diocese would assess on Wednesday whether Christmas services went ahead or not, but they probably would at least in part.

He thanked Melbourne Anglicans for their prayers, saying that they would have updates after Christmas.

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