“Thank you. Chair, I rise to speak on item A, the Mud Army 2.0 and the fantastic response by the community that delivered support to flood-affected residents. In my local area, where creeks and overland flow caused damage to properties, we were able to get in and start the clean-up on the Monday. Our own local Mud Army came together with the aid of the wonderful Bracken Ridge Lions Club, who helped with moving water-damaged items to the kerb, pulling up floor coverings and providing comfort and a listening ear to residents impacted.

This meant that we had most of the heavy lifting done by the end of the week and we had volunteers ready to join in the next stage with the Mud Army 2.0 and to assist residents affected by river flooding. I even met volunteers who had been impacted by creek and overland flooding who had cleaned their homes and wanted to help those inner city residents begin their clean-up. Having been a member of the 2011 Mud Army, it was quite surreal to now be on the organisational side of the clean-up operation and it was an honour to join with Councillor Davis and our wonderful Council officers to assist with the mobilisation of the Mud Army from the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens marshalling station, which was one of three stations on that day.

I know that Councillor Owen, Councillor Huang, Councillor Toomey and Councillor Howard also assisted and of course, all Councillors in those affected areas were on the ground helping as well. Along with many volunteer Council officers, we gathered at 6am to prepare for the volunteers to register, provide equipment and also divide them into teams to be briefed and bussed out to where they were needed. We were also joined during the day by the Brisbane Greeters, who helped to welcome and marshal volunteers into the centres.

I want to thank the teams behind this huge coordination and mobilisation of volunteers. It was a well-oiled, efficient machine and I want to acknowledge the Council officers, bus drivers, Brisbane Greeters, truck drivers, the ADF and all involved in the coordination of the Mud Army across the city. There were others behind the scenes of this Mud Army as well that people won’t have heard about. One of our first jobs of the day before volunteers arrived was to put together at least 100 brooms, kindly donated by Freudenberg Home and Cleaning Solutions of Pinkenba, along with mops and wipes. We had the help of the local State Member, Christian Rowan and Councillor for Pullenvale, Greg Adermann, who also later headed out on one of the buses with the teams.

The Mud Army 2.0 consisted of generous and kind community members, who worked in humid conditions to clean mud from people’s homes, remove damaged goods and organise damaged goods on the kerbside to allow for easier and faster pick-up by Council trucks and Bobcats and the ADF. It was dirty work and no doubt for many quite heart-breaking to witness. We thank them for their support and for bringing comfort to so many people at their most vulnerable time. Just being there and showing people that they cared meant so much. Of course like all armies, they need to be fed and this support came from young and old across the community.

From Bernadette Hyland-Wood and her family, who delivered food in brown bags with beautiful drawings on them that the children had done and notes for the Mud Army saying thank you, with bread rolls that were donated by St Lucia Bread Hound and ham by the IGA. To Marie, who individually wrapped dozens and dozens of Anzac slices. To Dylan, who delivered gorgeous vanilla cupcakes with caramel buttercream. To Harris Farm Markets for the fresh apples, pears and bananas and the wonderful Stuartholme School boarders, who baked muffins all day and made two trips down the hill to deliver them to our hungry volunteers and returning Mud Army.

These country girls said they know what it is like to experience difficult times and they were so happy they could help do something. At the end of the day, we welcomed back busloads of muddy, hot and hungry troops with food and water and so much thanks. We listened to their stories and we witnessed them exchanging phone numbers with newly made friends that they had worked side by side with during that day. We are so very proud of Brisbane and I know the rest of the Councillors join me in the gratitude that we have for the Mud Army 2.0.”

15 March 2022