Communities experience mixed blessings

North west flood communities feel the economic strain

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Work crews who were sent west to help repair the Mount Isa-Townsville rail line provided a boost to the economy.

Work crews who were sent west to help repair the Mount Isa-Townsville rail line provided a boost to the economy.

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Entire communities in the flood impacted north west are feeling the economic pinch following the unprecedented disaster.

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ENTIRE communities in the flood impacted north west are feeling the economic pinch following the unprecedented disaster.

The towns of Richmond and Hughenden are fighting back following the financial hit, which has impacted small businesses and primary producers alike.

Mayors in the impacted shires say they are disappointed with the lack of help made available for small businesses and expressed their desire to see grant money extended.

Richmond Shire Council Mayor John Wharton said while the town itself did not flood, businesses experienced hardship when the highway was cut.

However, he said the town was recovering quite well, largely due to the influx of workers helping to repair flood damaged assets.

Tent cities were established in Julia Creek and Richmond to house 180 Queensland Rail workers and contractors after accommodation was booked out.

"We are still concerned that there is no assistance for small businesses, that did suffer, particularly the shops like the butcher, the hardware, all of those that rely on cashflow," Cr Wharton.

"The transport and trucking companies and helicopter businesses are going to suffer for a fair while.

"But you can't rent a house in Richmond, the town is full, there are plenty of jobs available and council are screaming out for staff with assets and infrastructure washed away that will probably take two years to repair.

"The businesses are getting a good boost now, it was just the period of time of no cash flow at all, but it's now very active."

Cr Wharton said the flood highlighted the need for small regional towns to diversify their industries.

"You can't just rely on the cattle industry, you need diversity, which we had with a lot of construction before the flood. The tourists are starting to turn up and we haven't had our events yet."

Flinders Shire Council Mayor Jane McNamara said Hughenden had missed out on the influx of workers that Julia Creek and Richmond had experienced with the railway restoration.

She said the downturn continued as residents spent their money on only the necessities.

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