FLOOD MEMORIES: Michael De Grono had to help his mum out of her flat through floodwaters in 1992, which is where Quota Park is now.
FLOOD MEMORIES: Michael De Grono had to help his mum out of her flat through floodwaters in 1992, which is where Quota Park is now. Patrick Woods

Chest deep: how I rescued my mum in '92 flood

WHEN Michael De Grono arrived at his mother's home in Nambour on February 21, 1992, she was buy putting what she could on top of cupboards.

Mrs De Grono had already been through one flood at the Matthew St flat in 1983 and knew what to expect as word spread that Petrie Creek was on the rise again.

Mr De Grono had found roads closed as he tried to drive in to town to help his mother.

"I think I was up at Nambour Heights and I drove down Hospital Rd and the water was over the road there,” he said.

"I had to go back up and around and come down Blackall Tce. Where the RSL carpark is, where Ray Grace (car yard) was, it was going all through there.

"I parked in Blackall Tce and walked down on the opposite side of the road. The nearer I got to my mum's place, as I crossed the road, I thought, 'This is getting a bit scary'.

"By the time I got to my mum's place, I was knee deep in water. Mum's place was two or three steps up and it was up to the last step.”

Mrs De Grono was still reluctant to leave.

"I said, 'What are you doing? You've got to get out,' and she said, 'No' but it was only two or three minutes and the water was coming in the door.

"I said, 'We'd better get out'. I was trying to shove as much stuff up as I could and it was getting deeper and deeper.”

Mrs De Grono put some belongings in a port, which Mr De Grono put on his shoulder, and with her arms around his neck, they went outside and into chest-deep water.

"We waded through this water and I was trying to get to where the water was a bit shallower on the other side of the road, but the water was really strong,” he said.

"I'd take three steps and get washed back two and I was really worried about my mum,” he said.

"I thought if I go under, she can't swim.”

"There was so much stuff in the water - tyres and debris. Everything was floating past and hitting me.

"I remember there was a big branch with a snake on it. I thought, 'I hope it doesn't come towards us'. Mum didn't mind snakes but I was petrified.”

WAITING GAME: Pat De Grono surveys the scene from the Nambour RSL while waiting for the floodwaters to recede from her flat further along Matthew Street.
WAITING GAME: Pat De Grono surveys the scene from the Nambour RSL while waiting for the floodwaters to recede from her flat further along Matthew Street. Staff photographer

Mr De Grono eventually got his mother across the water and to the RSL, where she had a drink and a smoke and watched her home go under water.

And as quickly as it came, the water left.

"It was really strange. The water sort of dropped pretty quickly. It came up pretty quickly, and we were sitting there watching it, and and the next minute, it was down,” he said.

"I think the high tide held everything up.”

A mark near the top of Mrs De Grono's bedroom window showed how high the floodwaters had been.

Friends helped her clean up and she received some furniture donations to get back on her feet again.

Mrs De Grono, who died a few years ago, aged 80, stayed in the rented flat for years until the building was sold and demolished to make way for Quota Park and the children's playground.

WATERMARKS: Floodwaters left their mark on the walls of Pat De Grono's home. The brown mark is visible to the right of the bedroom window.
WATERMARKS: Floodwaters left their mark on the walls of Pat De Grono's home. The brown mark is visible to the right of the bedroom window. Contributed

Mr De Grono believes the flood will not be the last and is surprised that development has been allowed to occur in some low-lying areas on the coast.

"I know they build in drains and a lot of stuff for water but you can't drain a king tide and that sort of rain from the hills when the two hit together,” he said.

"I've seen some of these places and no way in the world. I can't believe they let them build there but that's the world we live in.”

"We've had really dry summer the last few years. If the clouds are going to open up and it rains, some of the people are going to be sorry.”


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