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For the love of OZ

Whistler businesses, employees step up to help flood victims

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The state of Queensland, Australia has been making international news headlines for weeks, as the area has experienced the worst flooding the region it has seen since 1974.

So far, the death toll from the floods has reached 20, with more than ten people still missing, and according to a story posted on The Australian Tuesday afternoon, "analysts are expecting it will take more than a year to rebuild the state, at a cost of more than $20bn (AUS)."

As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, $103,325,414 (AUS) had been donated to the Premier's Disaster Relief Appeal.

Here in Whistler, as legions of Australians on working holidays prepare to celebrate their national holiday, some are uniting to help those at home.

Jono Young, manager of the Crystal Lounge, has lived in Whistler for almost 12 years now, but is originally from Brisbane, the third largest city in Australia, and one of the areas hardest-hit by the floods.

"I was chatting with a friend who lives up in the Grantham area and literally (the floods) came in a matter of half an hour, and its still a bit of a question as to why no one saw it coming, but (my) friend went and got his parents from down the street, starting driving away, the water was coming that quick they could see it, and they actually climbed a tree with lifejackets and were in the tree for two hours."

Fortunately, Young's family escaped the floodwaters unscathed.

"My family, they didn't take water in their house, but they couldn't get to any shops or anything like that for three or four days. Once the creeks flooded, there was no where to go!"

In comparison to others in the area, they were very lucky.

"Some people's whole houses are getting gutted right down to the skeletons," Young pointed out.

"I was talking to my dad yesterday and he was doing some cleanup at a few friend's places and they're pretty much just in there with pressure washers, and then once they get all the mud out, they're just ripping all the drywall out and leaving the framework and electrical and letting it dry out, and then pretty much rebuilding the homes."

Now, Young is trying to help out, from almost 12,000 kilometres away, by hosting a Queensland Australia Floods Relief Fundraiser at the Crystal on Thursday, Feb. 10, starting at 8:30 p.m.

"We're a long way away and wish we could be there helping with the cleanup and stuff, but not being able to do that, we thought that the next best thing would be to do a fundraiser/raffle, collecting donations, prizes, gift certificates, all that stuff from around town," he said. "That night, we'll be doing entry by donation and raffle tickets, and be giving out prizes throughout the night."

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