Australia’s top toy library dumps contaminated toys following Townsville floods
The toy library expects their entire collection will have to be destroyed. (ABC North Queensland: Damien Larkins)
Piles of mouldy, flood-damaged goods sit on the kerb awaiting collection all over Townsville — beds, sofas, stereos and toys.
And outside one address there is a massive pile of toys — about $55,000 worth that will go to waste.
The Townsville Toy Library was inundated with water and sewage for several days during the recent record-breaking floods in North Queensland.
The library is a volunteer-run community group that loans out toys to families.
Last year, it was recognised as Australia’s Best Large Toy Library.
As floodwaters receded, this week committee members were finally able to access the building and assess the damage to the building and the toy collection.
Vice President Erin Kiernan said due to health concerns they were going to have to throw away every toy.
“We are heartbroken,” Ms Kiernan said.
“This pile behind us of toys behind us that have been contaminated with the storm water waste and the raw sewage. We can’t take the risk.
About 500 toys were out on loan when the flooding hit Townsville, another 500 were in the library.
The library estimates their total collection to be worth $55,000.
Ms Kiernan said even the toys on loan would have to be assessed for mould and contamination and may been thrown out as well.
Parents Belinda Barutucci and Diana Condylas watch as the library’s entire collection is removed. (ABC North Queensland: Damien Larkins)
Toy library offers support for parents
Belinda Barutucci, a local parent who volunteered to assist with the toy library clean up, said the library had been invaluable as a way to meet new people and develop a network of friends in Townsville.
“Because I’m a defence wife, it was a good way to network and meet people outside the defence community,” Ms Barutucci said.
“And do something while I’m not working — I was able to give back volunteering.”
Ms Barutucci said she was shocked to see the extent of the damage to the library and toys.
“Nothing can prepare you for how much waste there is which is the total opposite to the ethos of the toy library,” she said.
“That’s heartbreaking that we don’t even know what is going to happen next, hopefully we can come back a bit stronger.”
Royal Australian Air Force personnel assist toy-library volunteers. (ABC North Queensland: Damien Larkins)
RAAF personnel assist to clear ‘utter devastation’
Royal Australian Air Force personnel have been working alongside the Army clearing Townsville’s flood-affected streets.
Wing Commander Alan Brown said the volume of waste that he has seen was astounding.
“When you drive down the streets you see the utter devastation and people removing their whole household on to the kerb,” Wing Commander Brown said.
“The kids out there really need toys again and this place would have been ideal to come and get these toys and come and gets some enjoyment out of their life.
“So it is really sad to see these toys are going to be disposed of.”
Standing beside the pile of toys, Erin Kiernan said the library had some insurance but it was likely they would be fundraising and applying for grants to get the library back up and running as soon as possible.
“We will do anything and everything possible to rebuild this,” she said.
Last year the Townsville toy library was recognised as Australia’s best large toy library. (ABC North Queensland: Damien Larkins)