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PM visits a 'war zone' -

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PM visits a 'war zone'

The World Today - Tuesday, 18 November , 2008 12:18:00

Reporter: Donna Field

ELEANOR HALL: Emergency crews have been called from across the state and around the country to help
Brisbane deal with its storm damage.

The Prime Minister Kevin Rudd toured the worst hit areas of the city and likened them to a war
zone.

He announced additional emergency funds for those affected by the natural disaster and also
promised to send more military support if that's required.

In Brisbane, Donna Field reports.

DONNA FIELD: Flying in from Washington the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd headed straight to Brisbane's
worst hit suburb The Gap in the city's inner north-west.

Wearing a spray jacket as the rain continued to fall he surveyed a street where not a house was
left unscathed.

Premier Anna Bligh and Brisbane Mayor Campbell Newman gave Mr Rudd a rundown of the damage.

ANNA BLIGH: So, there's still a lot of work to do.

KEVIN RUDD: Have we got tarps over all roofs yet?

ANNA BLIGH: No.

KEVIN RUDD: And how far to go?

CAMPBELL NEWMAN: I think there's quite a lot to do.

ANNA BLIGH: Yep.

CAMPBELL NEWMAN: There's probably 800 or 900 SES jobs still to be done, and that's why we've got to
hit hard today.

KEVIN RUDD: What's the forecast today?

ANNA BLIGH: It's going to rain everyday till Friday with escalating each afternoon as it did last
night. It rained quite heavily here overnight. It's only just started to slow down.

DONNA FIELD: Mr Rudd then walked up the street meeting residents like Barbara Nelson.

BARBARA NELSON: I was at home alone with the dogs, so we went down to the room that had no windows
at the back of the house, so that we would be relatively safe. But the storm went through our front
windows and moved all the furniture across the floor and brought it down stairs and, um, but we
were safe so that was fine.

KEVIN RUDD: So it pushed in your front windows?

BARBARA NELSON: Those top windows, one of them exploded, furniture came through it, and then it
took all the furniture across the floor and then lifted all open for the storm to come through. But
we're much better off than most people in the street, there's houses with roofs missing, so we're
fine comparatively.

KEVIN RUDD: Must be terrifying.

DONNA FIELD: Mr Rudd has announced additional funding through Centrelink for those with significant
damage to their house. $1,000 per adult and $400 per child.

But with 4,000 houses damaged the Prime Minister says the recovery will take time.

KEVIN RUDD: Looks like a war zone and feels like a war zone. And what's good about it is the people
pulling together and neighbours looking after each other, that's really good. But you know, my
experience of these over the years is, day one, two and three, it's important, it's day 21, day 22,
day 23, that's what's really important when people are trying to put their lives back together and
work out where you get the money from, how do you actually organise your accommodation, how do you
look after the Christmas presents, all those sorts of practical things. That's where the community
really has to come together.

DONNA FIELD: Premier Anna Bligh says even though the storm hit on Sunday, the full extent of it
still may not be realised.

ANNA BLIGH: I think it's difficult to appreciate the scale of this, because on the one hand, it
seems it's only gone through a small number of suburbs but when you come into these suburbs, every
single street, almost every single home and backyard, 4,000 homes to date, but I think we'll see
that increase. We've had 11 mobile phone towers go down, so many people haven't been able to even
been able to report the damage. As we get into all of these back streets, we'll see the full extent
of it.

DONNA FIELD: 350 soldiers have joined the recovery effort and the Premier says an extra 1,000
emergency services volunteers will be on the streets today.

ANNA BLIGH: There's no doubt that all of our resources were overwhelmed when the storm first, when
the damage from the storm was first realised, but I think it's fair to say that many of our
workers, the Energex workers, the SES, the council workers, have really pulled together. Every
level of government, council, state, the army, the Federal Government, they're all out there and
everybody's pulling together and doing their best.

DONNA FIELD: Kevin Groves a State Emergency Service volunteer worked overnight and he says there's
still a great deal to do.

KEVIN GROVES: To me it appears almost like a cyclone sort of damage. I was at Ennisvale some years
ago and it seems to be the same sort of damage. So yeah, pretty bad.

DONNA FIELD: And what's the spirit like among the SES workers who are out?

KEVIN GROVES: Good, yeah, we're always pretty enthusiastic and keen to get on with the job.

DONNA FIELD: And there's a lot more work ahead?

KEVIN GROVES: Ah, yes. Quite a bit, yeah. So we'll be busy for a while yet.

DONNA FIELD: Melinda Goodin's parents house is one of the worst affected. She's sleeping in her van
outside to protect it because they're away on a cruise holiday.

MELINDA GOODIN: Well originally I told Dad that I got the message that part of the rook was off, I
wasn't quite expecting half the house and well they do know about it now and we haven't, there's no
point beating around the bush, we've just said, "Look, it's bad, you can't live in it."

DONNA FIELD: Mrs Goodin took the Prime Minister inside to see the damage. Mr Rudd said it was an
assault on the soul.

KEVIN RUDD: This is just the beginning of what's going to be a very long-term cleanup and I think
the important thing for us all is to keep faith with the people who have been horribly affected by
this with only a few minutes notice in many cases.

ELEANOR HALL: The Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, ending that report by Donna Field.