18 December 2023

GET THEM OUT NOW: Wujal Wujal facing an emergency after river breaks banks

| Matt Nicholls
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Patients and clinic staff have had to evacuate to the roof of the Wujal Wujal health clinic.

The banks of the Bloomfield River have burst, causing devastating flooding in the southern Cape York community of Wujal Wujal. It has left a large number of homes underwater and dozens of residents fearing for their lives as they wait it out on their roofs.

The health clinic has also gone underwater, forcing clinic staff to resort to the roof, as well as patients.

Cape York Weekly has just spoken to Anthony Gibson in Weipa. His grandson, who is around 10 years old, has been in the care of the clinic for the last 24 hours.

“My youngest daughter lives there and my grandson had a bit of an emergency … he’d had an operation on his spinal cord in the past,” Mr Gibson said.

“My daughter found him in the shower, lying on the ground, so she rushed him to the clinic.”

Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire Council CEO Kiley Hanslow said the clinic was desperate for him to get out on Sunday afternoon, but no help was forthcoming.

READ ALSO FORGOTTEN: Far North Queensland let down when help was most needed

“They won’t fly a helicopter in,” she said on Sunday afternoon.

At 3.30am on Monday, however, her attitude had shifted.

“They need to come and get these people now,” Ms Hanslow said.

“We’ve been told we won’t get a response until first light but there could be (fatalities).

“They need to bring the army up and get these people off the roofs.”

A submerged ambulance at the Wujal Wujal health clinic.

Mr Hudson said he was shocked to see the images of the health clinic’s ambulance underwater.

Cape York Weekly has been informed that the water level has dropped slightly, but it is still raining in Wujal and more rain is forecast.

“I’m also worried about the high tide and what that might do,” Mr Hudson said.

Ms Hanslow said locals were trying to get access to the men’s group boat to ferry people off roofs and to higher ground.

READ ALSO Jasper’s wrath: Cape and Far North rocked by widespread flooding

Her own house is being used as a refuge for several families.

The community has been without power since 5am Sunday and is currently relying on the 3G network for calls after it turned the 4G off at 11pm to preserve power in the batteries.

Cape York Weekly can also report that there are no police in the community.

Two officers made a dash for supplies when creeks were passable, but couldn’t get back in time.

There is at least one sick boy requiring serious medical attention in Wujal Wujal.

It’s a move that has been slammed by the community, especially after Queensland Police Service sent additional officers to Wujal Wujal for the passing of Cyclone Jasper.

And while Wujal Wujal copped the eye of the cyclone, it virtually had no impact on the community.

It’s the rain band left in his wake that has caused devastation across the Far North.

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