Agnes Water cut off from vital medication during floods
IT'S ONE thing to be marooned in a coastal paradise, but it's no holiday when you've been cut off from vital medication.
That's the reality faced by some Agnes Water residents every time heavy rain floods the access roads connecting the town to Miriam Vale and south to Bundaberg.
Justin Law bought the Agnes Water pharmacy in November last year, and in less than 12 months has experienced two major flooding events which have cut the town off from the rest of the region for several days.
Last week a customer visiting from the Gold Coast faced a worrying wait after she ran out of a highly specific type of epilepsy medication.
Mr Law attempted to make arrangements for delivery of the drug from Gladstone, including contacting the SES, but they were unavailable due to various rescue operations happening around the region.
At one point, he put out a call to community members on the off-chance another person had supplies a similar dosage of the same medication.
Eventually, he was able to coordinate with the woman's specialist to make alternate arrangements, increasing her dosage of another type of medication as a short-term fix.
Thankfully, the arrangement only needed to be short-lived after water receded on Friday morning, and a mine worker was able to bring the woman's medication from Gladstone through to Agnes Water as soon as Fingerboard Rd was reopened.
Mr Law now says the situation needs to be addressed or the consequences could be more serious the next time the region floods.
"I try to keep a minimum month's supply (of medication) in the pharmacy because I know it has been cut off here in the past... but sometimes it's a rare type of medication that we wouldn't normally carry," he said.
"It's happened twice since we've taken over. Both times something has happened where we couldn't get a particular person's medication.
"Last time (in March) the customer was palliative and was waiting on strong pain medication to give him relief after the delivery truck driver got turned around."
Mr Law said he was encouraged by the response of the local community to the situation, but something needed to change.
"Everyone was trying to help... I was getting phone calls from people not even offering the right medication," he said.
"The interesting thing is, the people here have adapted to it - they don't have that sense of privilege.
"I come from the Sunshine Coast - if people there were told they couldn't get their medication they'd be freaking out.
"What we need is only one road that is a bit flood-proof. Then if one goes down, okay, but with two (flooded), you're cut off totally."
Mayor Matt Burnett and Cr Rick Hansen spent yesterday driving around flood-affected areas across the region to see the damage for themselves.
Cr Burnett said a flood-proof road connecting Agnes Water to Gladstone as a long-term fix to the problem was something the council supported and was working towards.
But he said community members shouldn't expect a new road to be built overnight.
"The priority at the moment is putting a connection between Baffle Creek and Agnes Water - but while that's happening we're looking at the Gladstone to Agnes route as well," Cr Burnett told The Observer.
"The (aim) is to make it shorter - allowing a shorter distance to the hospital - but also to give the State Government the option to flood-proof the road.
"It's not something that's going to be able to be done in this term of the council, but you've got to plan for the future... and as Agnes continues to grow it will be more and more necessary."
Cr Burnett said the process of creating a new road from scratch was long and arduous - and it was important to get it right.
"It takes a lot of planning - you don't want to build a flood-proof road that's not flood-proof," he said.
"We have to first get the alignment right, then prove up the alignment to make sure it can handle the weather.
"We are looking at Turkey Beach Rd around Bororen, and connecting that through to Round Hill Rd somewhere around Murphy Rd."
The process is complicated partly because a significant amount of land between those two locations is private property.
The issue of the new road's ownership would also have to be hashed out, with Fingerboard Rd being a State Government-controlled road and any potential construction almost definitely requiring council, state and federal funding.
The mayor said the task was a daunting one - but the council had completed a similar challenge previously with the construction of Kirkwood Rd.
"It's a big ask, a whole new road - but we did it with Kirkwood," he said.
"When I was elected to the council in 2000 there were no plans, no maps, nothing like that. But now here it is.
"(The) Agnes (road) will happen, but it's going to take time."