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Aberdeen nurse working round the clock during Brisbane floods

By Myles Edwards.  Published in the Daily Record 14th January 2011

Sarah at Sydney Harbour Bridge, 2010.


SCOTS nurse Sarah Leighton has been working round the clock as a result of Australia’s floods.

The 22-year-old has been stranded in Brisbane’s Wesley hospital where she has been putting in extra hours to treat patients.

Queensland premier Anna Bligh yesterday said the state was reeling from the worst natural disaster in its history and faced a reconstruction effort of “post-war proportions”.

Sarah, who moved from Aberdeen to the Queensland capital in October 2009, revealed she and her colleagues were going the extra mile to help those in need.

She said: “We were called on Tuesday night to say that anyone who could make it in had to come in first thing in the morning, before it was too late.

“The usual route to get into the hospital was flooded and when I eventually made it to the front door, a policeman had to escort me up to the ward.

“I worked a nine-hour shift, followed by a four-hour break and then had to work through the night again until 5am.

“We do not have enough clothes but the hospital bosses have been amazing. We have been given unlimited amounts of food and water and even some fashionable medical scrubs.

“There are four of us nurses staying in the ward, all in a room with two beds and two mattresses on the floor.

“We are unsure when we will get home as it all depends on when other staff can make it in.

“The only access to the hospital now is via a pedestrian railway bridge.

“There are numerous patients who are well enough to be discharged but unable to get home due to the floods.

“We hope to get home on Friday or Saturday but we don’t even know what state our house in Toowong will be in.”

For the first time since she started her epic shift, Sarah and her colleagues were able to venture outside yesterday morning – and were stunned by the impact the flood waters have had on Brisbane.

She said: “Until this walk we had been stuck in a bubble and unaware of what the city was like.

“The streets have an eerie feel to them. What was a lovely, beautiful city is now covered in inches of mud where the water has retreated and it has left an awful smell.

“During our walk we saw a restaurant and half of a car float by us, as well as a dressing table, DVDs and some shoes.”

She revealed her boyfriend, Australian John McCormack, was cut off from her as the surrounding roads at his home were flooded.

The clean-up operation will be a mammoth task but Sarah insisted her immediate focus is on making sure her loved ones are OK.

She added: “The supermarkets are all running low due to everyone stocking up prior to the worst of the floods, so people keep asking us what we will do for food.

“I really don’t care – the main thing is all my friends are safe and well and we will worry about everything else when the situation improves.”

As the deadly floodwaters finally began to recede, officials warned it could be days before people can return to 30,000 homes and businesses damaged in the disaster.

One man died in the city after being sucked into a storm drain by the muddy waters.

The discovery, plus two other bodies found yesterday, brought the death toll to 25 since late November.

At least 61 people are still missing, and the death toll is expected to rise.


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