Tugs guide debris under Brisbane bridges

Jan. 13, 2011 at 1:43 AM

BRISBANE, Australia, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Quick thinking tugboat crews guided pieces of boardwalk through Brisbane's bridges Wednesday as flooding continued in eastern Australia authorities said.

Doug Hislop of Bowen Tugs and Barges told The Courier-Mail he knew there was a problem when he heard on the radio at 4 a.m. that a 1,200-foot section of the Riverwalk was headed down the Brisbane River. Hislop, captain of the Mavis, and his engineer, Peter Fenton, headed upstream and managed to intercept the section and push it into a position where it would be carried under the Gateway Bridge without causing significant damage.

Water Police and 13 tugboats spent hours guiding large pieces of debris under bridges and away from oil tanks and other vulnerable riverside structures.

Hislop said he has previous experience with Brisbane flooding in 1974.

"We didn't get a call-out. We heard it on the radio that it was coming down and I knew it would be a problem," he said.

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