ROLLING up their sleeves and braving the mud, 14 schoolboys from a rural Catholic school travelled to the flood-ravaged suburb of Idalia, Townsville, to help out their neighbours.
The boys from St Teresa’s College, Abergowrie, received high praise for their initiative.
They managed to clear out eight houses and filled up two dump trucks for the kerbside pick-up.
College principal Angus Galletly said the boys worked hard.
“It gave them a great sense of pride and were happy to help people out,” Mr Galletly said.
“They openly chatted with the residents and in turn received hugs, high-fives and gratitude.”
The boys are just some of many Townsville school staff and families who have supported hundreds of families affected by the recent floods.
The severe weather impacted thousands of Townsville homes, with many households inundated with water in an event described as “unprecedented”.
Townsville Catholic Education executive director Jacqui Francis said many schools had students who had lost homes and property, and one of the 12 schools in Townsville was significantly damaged.
“We received extensive damage to St Margaret Mary’s College, with one of the campuses taking the full force of the flood water,” she said.
“We are very proud of our staff who have worked hard to clean up the school and allow all students to return today (Monday, February 11).
“This is a devastating event which will affect people for months to come, and we are putting our efforts into providing extensive physical and pastoral support.”
Ms Francis said school staff across Townsville had organised clean-up crews, cooked meals, donated uniforms and school supplies, and helped out wherever they could.
St Joseph’s Catholic School, the Strand, had a impressive response from its community.
Principal Timothy Ham said St Joseph’s had 50 to 60 families and a handful of staff affected by the floods.
Mr Ham said the Parents’ and Friends’ association had led the way with the support.
“It’s been an amazing effort; our families have been incredibly generous,” Mr Ham said.
“We’ve had tuckshop volunteers and parent volunteers who have been cooking meals for families and delivering them.
“We’ve had people visiting families’ houses the last week to clean and clean mould and hose out and get rid of the mud.
“We had about 100 students over the Saturday and Sunday we cared for while parents got in and cleaned, not having to worry about looking after them.”
Mr Ham said the state of some of the houses was traumatic.
“(It was) hard for the kids to be back there and see that, let alone clean it up,” he said.
Mr Ham said the school itself had only minor damage and many other schools were in a much worse state.
“It’s going to take a lot of time to get back on track, and any support that people can offer to Townsville communities would be greatly appreciated,” he said.
Another school that had avoided the brunt of the floods was St Joseph’s School, Mundingburra.
Principal Justin Orford said a lot of what they were able to achieve was done over Facebook.
Mr Orford said the school received a number of calls from parents asking how they could help families in the school community affected by the flood.
He said to manage the requests, the school created a Facebook post asking if people could help the school and how they could help.
“We had around about 62 or 63 entries offering assistance,” he said.
The offers included driving children to school, accommodation and looking after kids’ lunches.
“We managed to put about 18 students back into school uniform from donations within our own school community,” Mr Orford said.
“We even finished the week with a bit of a sausage sizzle and disco, all donated, just to build up some energy in the school.
“And that was all in the first three days after the floods, so it’s just been amazing stuff.”
Townsville Bishop Tim Harris said God was working through all the people helping to clean up and alleviate the hardships of others.
“I believe God is already working,” he said.