Driver tells how water tank tore apart, swept her off road

CURRIMUNDI mother Lou O'Brien is trying not to think about the wall of water that swept her and her 11-year-old twins Zali and Alex from Kawana Way on Friday.

A routine afternoon, en-route to swimming training, found the trio in the path of a 2.7 million-litre inland tsunami created when a water tank at the Sunshine Coast Public University Hospital ruptured.

While the wall of water knocked Mrs O'Brien's car from the road, sending the three into a ditch, they were able to extricate themselves and get to safety. They were the only ones affected by the incident on the major road.

Mrs O'Brien recalled how the water tank had torn apart as time seemed to slow, and the bizarre scenes in the immediate aftermath.

"I almost feel like we were in a movie," she said.

"It was like there was dynamite in the tank. It was really loud.

"We saw the explosion and I was trying to process what the hell that was ... and then I saw the water and that's when I told the kids to hang on and that felt like a long time but it was probably only about two seconds - it (water) hit us like a train."

SAFE AND SOUND: Lou O’Brien comforts her twins Alex and Zali, 11, after their lucky escape last week from a wall of water that washed their car off Kawana Way.
SAFE AND SOUND: Lou O’Brien comforts her twins Alex and Zali, 11, after their lucky escape last week from a wall of water that washed their car off Kawana Way. Warren Lynam

She estimated they had been tossed about by the water for about 10-15 seconds before their car came to rest, the force of the water knocking sunglasses from her face and goggles from the head of one of her kids.

She said the twins were coping well.

"It was surreal afterwards. It was like the eye of the storm," Mrs O'Brien said.

"It was a very strange thing to be a part of."

Speaking yesterday, three days after the bizarre incident, Mrs O'Brien thanked the community for the support and well wishes sent her way, and said Lendlease had also made a kind gesture to assist.

Lendlease general manager building for Queensland and Northern Territory Tony Orazio organised a hire car for the next two months for the O'Brien family, as well as replacing the camera kit that had been in Mrs O'Brien's car when the water struck.

It means the small-business owner can continue her work as a photographer and she thanked Mr Orazio for the gesture and for taking the time to help her out after the incident.

"He was a human to me. It was really nice," she said.

She said she was taking a few days off work to process the incident. But she added that she was contactable via email for any clients trying to get hold of her, after her phone had been destroyed by the torrents of water that had spilled out.

"Maybe we had some angels looking after us," she said yesterday. "We had so many lucky things. I couldn't believe we didn't get hit by any shrapnel (from the tank ripping open)."

Topics:  currimundi editors picks kawana way sunshine coast survivor tsunami

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