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Thursday / May 30.
HomeminewsFlood Update: OAA Pledges Support for Members

Flood Update: OAA Pledges Support for Members

With Brisbane and the nearby city of Ipswich bracing itself for the worst floods in more than 100 years, there are warnings that a further 20,000 homes will be flooded by early tomorrow morning.

Tragically, the number of people missing after flash flooding in Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley continues to rise, with emergency services fearing that more bodies will be found today as they begin the grim task of searching properties in the townships of Grantham and Murphy’s Creek.

While the main focus is on the disaster than has enveloped Queensland, other parts of Australia are also battling raging waters, with parts of Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and Northern Territory either already inundated or expecting heavy rainfalls and flash flooding.

The Optometrists Association Australia (OAA) President Michael Knipe says the Queensland division of the OAA has been in contact with most of its members in towns in the flood zones – including Toowoomba, Dalby, Gatton, Chinchilla, Warwick and Gatton – and “it appears to date that they, their practices and families are safe and sound, despite the devastation”. The OAA will continue attempts to monitor the safety of optometrists and their staff in the disaster areas, with OAA Queensland/Northern Territory CEO Greg Johnson warning that with Ipswich under water and the Brisbane River yet to reach its peak, there will be more pain to come.

Optometrist Teresa Haigh, from Insight Eyewear in the Lockyer Valley town of Laidley, which is situated between Ipswich and Gatton, contacted mivision last night to report that staff at her practice were safe…

Queensland division President Kate Johnson was forced to evacuate her Brisbane practice, Gerry & Johnson Optometrists, yesterday afternoon when the Brisbane River began to rise.

“We began cancelling our appointments because it became evident that people couldn’t get into or out of the city, in some areas; increasing areas of the city were being closed and evacuated.

“We watched the Brisbane River swell over Southbank significantly in just a few hours. There was a mass exodus from the city … my practice is on the fourth floor of an office building so I expect it to be physically fine.”

She said she expected a significant economic impact on the eye care industry in Queensland, as patients find their income tied up in the cost of repairs to their devastated communities.

“Practices that need to close for any stretch of time will face significant cash flow problems.

“We’ve also received notice that Hoya’s Brisbane lab has closed until further notice… the closure of Hoya means significant delays in our patients receiving their new glasses.

“The most important thing, though, so far, is that Greg Johnson (the OAA Queensland/NT division CEO) has determined that all Queensland optometrists in flood affected areas are safe, after receiving or making almost 200 phone calls yesterday.

“We’re now sitting in our homes, waiting to see what happens today and Thursday,” Ms Johnson said.

Optometrist Teresa Haigh, from Insight Eyewear in the Lockyer Valley town of Laidley, which is situated between Ipswich and Gatton, contacted mivision last night to report that staff at her practice were safe.

“The main street has had significant water and it is affecting local businesses … it is impossible to get to the practice as roads are closed to Laidley.

“We are unsure as to how high the water has got and what damage has been done. Thankfully, no loss of life or homes of our staff!!!”

OAA President Michael Knipe says the eye care industry will be ready to stand by its flood-devastated members.

“As has been the case in past situations where communities have suffered natural disasters of this magnitude, the Optometrists Association Australia and its members are standing by to offer assistance once they start the recovery process.

“Such measures include the loan of equipment or premises to allow optometrists in the affected areas to continue to offer quality optometric services to those requiring it.

“Many people in these communities will return to homes and offices to find they have lost their glasses and urgently need replacements and the OAA, as it has in the past, will ensure that replacement glasses are readily available to be donated to those in need.”

Mr. Knipe says all disaster relief offered by the OAA will be coordinated through government-appointed disaster relief organisations.

He says the OAA will continue to monitor the situation and the safety of its members.

The OAA has urged people to donate to the Premier’s Disaster Relief Fund.

To donate to the Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal go to: www.qld.gov.au/floods/donate.html or call (AUS) 1800 219 028.

To donate to the Salvation Army Flood Relief effort go to: www.salvos.org.au

If you are concerned about a member of the OAA Qld/NT that you can’t contact phone the OAA Qld/NT office: (AUS) 07 3839 4411. Otherwise, to find out information on family and friends caught up in the flooding disaster phone the Information hotline for friends and family: (AUS) 1300 993 191.