Soldiers, prisoners, the Red Cross and more than 1000 volunteers have joined forces to clean up the devastation left by Brisbane’s worst storm in 25 years, amid warnings of more dangerous weather.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd arrived in the worst hit north-western suburb of The Gap at first light and despite more than 24 hours of mopping up, he was shocked by the storm’s fury.
“It looks like a war zone and feels like a war zone,” Rudd told reporters after diverting to Brisbane on his way home from Washington DC.
“What is good about it is the people pulling together and neighbours looking after each other.”
The prime minister announced extra Centrelink assistance for families and named Human Services Minister Joe Ludwig as cabinet’s point-man for the clean-up operation.
An emergency services spokesman said there had been more than 1110 requests for assistance, with 323 completed so far.
Overall, 4000 homes were damaged, with around 300 seriously damaged and at least 25 deemed unliveable.
State Emergency Service (SES) members, whose hotline received 17,000 calls, were again out in force on Tuesday, with 310 volunteers from Queensland and NSW tarping roofs and clearing debris in The Gap, Upper Kedron, Arana Hills and Keperra.
Another 190 SES volunteers are due to arrive in Brisbane by Wednesday morning.
Seventy Queensland police recruits and more than 300 personnel from the Australian Defence Force are also helping to clear trees and debris.
The number of defence personnel is expected to reach around 600 in coming days.
RACQ Insurance chief executive Bradley Heath estimated claims worth at least $25 million would be lodged.
A spokesman for the Insurance Council of Australia said 6,000 claims had been made by Tuesday morning, with numbers likely to double later in the week.
The Queensland government has donated $500,000 to kickstart a new disaster fund to help those affected.
The Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal, announced by Premier Anna Bligh on Tuesday afternoon (AEST), will supplement other government support packages.
Bligh said times would be tough for families leading up to Christmas and encouraged others to donate money at any Commonwealth Bank branch.
Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman said the disaster was “unparalleled” and defended the time it took to respond following angry calls from residents to talkback radio.
“If you go back to Sunday night, the power was out, streets were dark, there were 560 cables down across the greater Brisbane area, the mobile phone network was affected and landlines were also out in this area,” he said.
“Could we have done things better? Well, if we all had cell phone implants in our ears or something like that and could have got the message out, maybe.”
Meanwhile, Queensland’s Gold Coast hinterland, hit hard by Sunday’s storm, is in the path of another severe weather event, the Bureau of Meteorology said.
The bureau has issued a severe weather warning for heavy rain and flash flooding for coastal areas south of Brisbane on Tuesday night.
More storms are expected to hit south-east Queensland on Thursday.