Queensland couple lucky to be alive as tsunami-like wave washes them away on top of a water tank

A North Burnett couple say they are lucky to be alive after surviving a morning clinging to a water tank in raging floodwaters.

In the early hours of Saturday about 600 millimetres of rainfall was recorded at Dallarnil north of Gympie.

Dallarnil resident Tiarna Bramich and her partner were woken by the downpour shortly after midnight when their house began to shake. 

“We thought the house was going to take off,” she said.

“It didn’t look too bad outside so we thought we could make it to higher ground and then we got out along the house and then there was just this big wave.

The couple climbed a water tank to escape the torrent.

“We were trying to stay above water — my feet got stuck in a fence and it kind of pulled me under,” Ms Bramich said. 

“If my partner wasn’t there, there is no way I would have survived that. He pushed me into a tree and the tanks were right next to it.

“It all happened in the blink of an eye.”

Saying goodbye to loved ones

Ms Bramich said her and her partner called their families to say goodbye.

“We called our families and said goodbye because we didn’t think we would make it off there. It was hard hearing them on the other side of the phone very upset.

“That was the hardest thing.”

They fought to stay alive, before being rescued by neighbours four hours later.

“We were on the first tank — and then that just took off, so we jumped on a second tank and then we thought we were safe,” Ms Bramich said.

“It stuck for like two minutes and then that one just took off.

“Two trees fell down and the tank got stuck in there, so we didn’t move.”

The couple stayed put until help came.

Rural fire brigade volunteers walk into a flood damaged houseRural fire brigade volunteers walk into a flood damaged house
Rural Fire Brigade volunteers began clean-up efforts on Saturday.(ABC Wide Bay: Johanna Marie)

North Dallarnil Rural Fire Brigade First Officer Max Pearce said they are unsure of where the tsunami-like wave came from.

“It has shifted concrete tanks full of water, it shifted 5,000-gallon poly tanks full of water and probably 18 cars in the town impacted by the floodwaters.

“I’ve heard there are a couple of dams that let go, but nobody is saying that was what caused the influx of water.”

Man with serious face stands in front of fire truckMan with serious face stands in front of fire truck
Max Pearce says Rural Fire Brigade volunteers have been working around the clock to provide support to Dallarnil residents. (ABC Wide Bay: Johanna Marie )

As a local to Darllarnil, Mr Pearce said it was difficult to watch his community be so unprepared for the flood.

“When I first drove in the town, the devastation was unreal,” Mr Pearce said.

“We haven’t had much sleep our fellows are working long hours. It won’t be back to normal, there’s a lot more work to be done ahead.

“It’s a little bit hard to comprehend, [the Bureau of Meteorology] didn’t get a better idea of when it was going to hit.”

A car off the road and road damageA car off the road and road damage
The Rural Fire Brigade estimates 18 cars were swept up in flood water, which also caused severe damage to roads. (Supplied: Rural Fire Brigade)

North Burnett Councillor Wendy Whyatt said Dallarnil without the rural fire brigade volunteers, residents felt they were receiving no support for flood recovery.

“They’re trying to clean up but with limited services, so it’s all a bit overwhelming for them all,” she said.

“Sometimes they’re just in survival mode, so it’s hard to sort of process things.”

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