Newspaper article The Queensland Times (Ipswich, Australia)

Visiting You Is the Very Least I Could Do. Prince William Touched the Hearts and Lifted the Spirits of Ipswich's Flood Victims, Writes Peter Foley

Newspaper article The Queensland Times (Ipswich, Australia)

Visiting You Is the Very Least I Could Do. Prince William Touched the Hearts and Lifted the Spirits of Ipswich's Flood Victims, Writes Peter Foley

Article excerpt

HUNDREDS of Ipswich's flood victims gathered yesterday, their hearts filled with hurt, until Prince William came to their emotional rescue.

Nine weeks after the devastating floods the Prince arrived, carrying the hope that he could ease the victims' pain Co even just for a while.

Bundamba woman Lynne Nardi said she was taken by Prince William's humility.

C[pounds sterling]I said: CyThanks for coming' and he said: CyIt's the very least I could do',C[yen] Mrs Nardi said.

Prince William arrived at the West Moreton Anglican College hall 25 minutes after the scheduled 11.30am but no-one cared.

Hours before the scheduled arrival time, the room was buzzing.

Flood victims were on one side and flood helpers on the other, both groups behind barricades made of white plastic chains.

Many of them held plastic flags they got before they walked in the door.

An elderly woman with white hair sat on a white plastic chair, sometimes waving her flag in time to the music from the school's band.

She didn't seem to notice when they played Love Shack.

Dotted through the crowd were people who have become familiar to the QT as flood victims, such as Keith Carnell and Patrick Rowe.

The eyes that gazed towards the Prince have seen too much misery; felt too much pain. They were hungry for some relief.

Mayor Paul Pisasale attached himself to the Prince's right shoulder, refusing to budge even when he was angrily waved away by photographers.

Up the front of the hall was a woman in a black T-shirt with bold white capital letters that read: C[pounds sterling]Proud to live in IpswichC[yen].

At the back of the hall, the Prince reached out to touch someone. He towered over everyone, dressed in familiar chambray shirt, moleskins and tan shoes.

A low murmur filled the room. The Prince seemed to shake everyone's hand. Some stood on chairs to get a look.

Karen Schmidt showed Prince William a photo album of her inundated home and he patiently turned the pages.

C[pounds sterling]I suppose you could say it's a positive out of a negative. It really is a bright spot,C[yen] Mrs Schmidt said later.

C[pounds sterling]There hasn't been a lot of joy in my life lately. But today has made me smile for the first time in a long while.C[yen]

Mrs Schmidt lives in North Booval and water came a metre into the second floor of her home.

C[pounds sterling]As soon as I got the invitation for today, I said: CyI want to be part of that',C[yen] she said.

C[pounds sterling]It was joyous. The feeling when I walked in the room was one of elation. Everyone around me felt the same way.

C[pounds sterling]I thought maybe I'd get a few feet away and hopefully get a photo. Instead I got to meet a lovely young man who cared about what happened. It's a boost emotionally and spiritually. …

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