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Students rescued after Queensland floodwaters trapped them on school camp

Staff writers, March 11, 2018 8:03PM Townsville Bulletin

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Grade 6 Willow State School students return home after being evacuated from a North Queensland adventure camp. Picture: Zak Simmonds media_cameraGrade 6 Willow State School students return home after being evacuated from a North Queensland adventure camp. Picture: Zak Simmonds

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A group of children trapped by floodwaters for almost a week while on school camp in north Queensland were rescued yesterday and flown home to their families.

The rescue was finally possible thanks to a break in the bad weather.

Two planes carrying some of the children landed at Townsville airport at 1pm with several more trips needed to evacuate* all 68 students and 10 staff who were still at the camp.

Taxis were waiting at the airport to take the children to Willows State School to be reunited with their worried families.

Grade 6 Willow State School students are reunited with their families. Picture: Zak Simmonds media_cameraGrade 6 Willow State School students are reunited with their families. Picture: Zak Simmonds

More than 70 students and staff from Townsville had been trapped at the Echo Creek adventure park near Tully since last Monday.

“The (main) concern of everybody was the safety and wellbeing of the children,” Superintendent Steve Munroe told ABC radio yesterday.

“They’ve been away from their homes for an extended period of time. The kids have been kept in really good spirits thanks to really good efforts by the teachers who were with them.”

Students aboard the plane while being evacuated from the camp. Picture: Zak Simmonds media_cameraStudents aboard the plane while being evacuated from the camp. Picture: Zak Simmonds

A doctor and two nurses were flown into camp late on Saturday to check on the health of the group. Three children with gastro were flown to Cairns but authorities decided at the time it was safer to leave the remaining students where they were.

A diabetic* child and a parent were evacuated on Friday.

An army helicopter delivered food, blankets, clothes and medications to the group during the week.

There had been earlier hopes the floodwater may have dropped enough for the group to be rescued by bus, but updated weather forecasts predicted more wet weather this week.

Floodwaters surround a house in Ingham in North Queensland. Picture: AAP media_cameraFloodwaters surround a house in Ingham in North Queensland. Picture: AAP

Heavy rain for much of the past week has caused mass flooding, with the area between Cairns and Townsville declared a disaster* zone by the State Government.

More than 200 homes were flooded at Ingham and some residents at Innisfail had to evacuate.

Queensland Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk said the full amount of damage caused by the rain would not be known for weeks, but that flooding would harm banana and sugar cane crops.

“We will get the full assessments over the next few weeks about the impact on the economy* and I think everyone should spare a thought for the farmers who are going to feel a huge impact,” she said.

Children play in floodwaters in Ingham. Picture: AAP media_cameraChildren play in floodwaters in Ingham. Picture: AAP

GLOSSARY

  • evacuate: remove from danger to a safe place
  • diabetic: having the disease diabetes
  • disaster: a sudden accident or event that causes great damage
  • economy: the process or system by which goods and services are produced, sold, and bought

LISTEN TO TODAY’S STORY

QUICK QUIZ

  1. How many students and staff were evacuated yesterday?
  2. Which grade were the students in? 
  3. How long had they been trapped? 
  4. Where was the school camp? 
  5. Which Queensland crops will be affected by the floodwaters?  

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Camp journal

Often when students go on a school camp their teachers ask them to keep a journal about their experience. I’m sure the journal entries of these students will be far more dramatic than they originally expected! Write an imaginative journal entry from the point of view of a student on this camp. Be sure to think about what additional problems they may have been having as a result of being stranded and the feelings they might have been having.

Extension: Now imagine how the families back at home must have been feeling. Write an imagined conversation about the incident between two family members with stranded children.

Time: Allow 20 minutes
Curriculum links: English

2. Disaster map
On a map of Australia, find and highlight Queensland. Then on a separate map of Queensland, mark the locations mentioned in the article and highlight the disaster zone to get a clearer idea of the magnitude of the flooding. Estimate the distance between the different locations using the scale on your map to assist you.

Extension: The article mentions that the flooding will harm banana and sugar cane crops. Have a think about this and elaborate on the statement in your own words to explain further why flooding is a problem for these crops and what will potentially happen as a result.

Time: Allow 15 minutes
Curriculum links: English, Geography, Science

VCOP ACTIVITY
After reading the article, with a partner, highlight as many connectives as you can find in pink. Discuss if these are being used as conjunctions, or to join ideas and create flow.

IN ONE SENTENCE, TELL US WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT TODAY’S STORY
Please do not use one-word answers. Explain what you enjoyed or found interesting about today’s article. Use lots of adjectives.

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