FLOOD-TRAPPED smokers used technology to outwit the swollen waters of the Herbert – by being flown emergency ‘durries’ over Abergowrie Bridge on a drone.
Ingham local Corey Christensen flew three packets of cigarettes to his stranded mates after they were cut-off from Ingham by the rising river.
Though this may seem like a light-hearted gesture (to non-smokers), reports of a flood-trapped farmer in his 70s striding through crocodile-infested waters to collect medicine have sparked Corey to make a public call to anyone in trouble during the wet season.
The former Ingham High student said: ‘When it comes to flood time there’s a lot of people in need.
‘A lot of people don’t want to put a boat in the river just to get some smokes.
‘That’s the first time I’ve done it, but I have been testing out how much weight I can fly on my drone.
‘I was going to get into it as a helping hand thing. I’ve tested it out and I can take a few packets of smokes or medication – anything under 1 kg.’Drone photographer Corey Christensen.
The 27-year-old Ingham Tennis Association member added: ‘I would love to be able to maybe start something around that in Ingham.
‘I would have to do it properly and professionally, working with doctors and pharmacies.
‘I’ve got medication training from when I worked in disability.
‘They aren’t just going to hand you big bags of medication unless you are trained.
‘You can call smokes medication I guess. They’re really important to some.
‘I’m hoping it can grow this into something bigger.’
The former Ingham Wolves youth player owns four drones.
He used a Mavik Pro 2 to dispatch his first flood delivery.
The machine costs $2,500 and can fly up to 500 metres high.
‘It could go higher, but that’s the legal restriction.
‘I have about a 5 km radius. There’s not really many places I can’t get to.’
Corey was disturbed after hearing about an elderly man dicing with sweeping currents in crocodile-inhabited water to cross a flooded Abergowrie Bridge to secure his medication.
The drone expert said: ‘That stresses me out. I could have simply fixed that up with no safety risk at all.’Corey Christensen’s reaction on hearing an elderly farmer crossed a flooded bridge to retrieve medication.
‘He’s done that because he thinks he’s got no other option.
‘I’ve never publicly announced before that I can help people. I want to do that now.’
Abergowrie resident Cameron Harris was the man who collected the ‘smokes’ on the other side of the bridge.
He said: ‘It was hilarious actually. [When I saw them being flown over] I was thinking how ridiculous I am.
‘We were uncertain how long the river was going to be up for.
‘Corey was coming down anyway to take photos so we got him to fly some smokes over.
‘I was pretty relieved [when the bag landed].
‘I waited ‘til I got back home [to have a smoke].
‘The important thing is it would be good for medication. You could charge for the delivery.
‘It would be a good business – and help people in need.’
‘It would be great for people who need medication.
‘It was Grom’s idea – I just put it into place.’
Grom Reid, who is one of around 500 people who live at the inland valley community, came up with the plan.
He said: ‘They wanted me to put me boat in – I thought that was a bit of a risk.
‘I knew Corey was coming down to take photos and videos with his drone, so I thought we could ask him to fly us some over.’
Corey attached a plastic bag with a zip-tie to his drone and his mate gratefully received it on the other side.
An eye-witness who saw the pensioner wade over the bridge at around 10.30 am on Monday, said: ‘It was terrifying to watch.
‘The guy was in his 70s. He was waist-deep. It took him about 45 minutes to cross.
‘He nearly got pulled over by the current a few times.
‘When he was nearly there a 4-wheel drive came from the Ingham side.
‘We thought he was going to him pick up – but he drove straight past him, hitting him with a wall of water and nearly knocking him over.’An eye-witness watched on in horror as a 4-wheel drive that crossed a flooded Abergowrie Bridge nearly knocked over an elderly farmer – who was crossing on foot in the other direction to get his medication.
‘He just managed to keep his feet and make it to the other side, where his mate was waiting with his medication.
‘The guy in the 4-wheel drive went over two big logs and nearly got taken [by the river].
‘It’s not worth the risk.
‘The river was at about 10.6 metres and rising.
‘The bridge floods at 10 metres. It was lapping at about 6 am on Monday morning and had been closed by the council.’
The eye-witness added: ‘We went down the night before with a spotlight and saw a few [crocodile] eyes when we scanned the river.’
‘I wanted to go and help the guy, but I’ve got children. If you get knocked off that bridge by the current you’re gone.
‘You wouldn’t bob back up.
‘If you didn’t drown, you’d be croc feed.
‘Someone called the police. If he’d gone over, the rescue services would have had to try and find him.’
Waters rose around Hinchinbrook this week, with heavy rainfall in the north causing rivers and creeks to swell, closing off roads and bridges,
A video of a crocodile in Trebonne Creek, behind a family home, was posted on Facebook page Lower Herbert Disaster Information, which is becoming one of the most interactive sources of instant weather news for Hinchinbrook.
Other photos of crocodiles in flood waters were posted.
Abergowrie was cut off to Ingham between Monday and Wednesday.
Heavy rainfall is predicted for the coming days, which may lead to further disruptions.