The catastrophic February floods saw the Townsville community turned upside down.
Unfortunately, our beloved Toy Library was not able to escape the devastation and became a casualty of the floods. Sewage infested water saw our 40-year old community-run organisation destroyed in a day. Unfortunately, in alignment with professional advice, the committee had to make the heart wrenching decision not to retain any toys in proximity to the building to protect the safety of our children.
Guidance was relied upon from an interstate toy library, who have been through an almost identical experience, and the Townsville City Council who had their Hygienist Specialist determine the toxicity of the premises where our toys are stored. This specialist determined that nothing should be retained from the building.
In addition, Dr Mark Blaskovich, Acting Director of the ‘Centre for Superbug Solutions’ for the Institute of Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland provided the following advice:
Anything in contact with the flood water has a chance of being contaminated with dangerous bacteria. In regards to the toys that were not in direct contact with the water, they could still be seriously affected with either water that has splashed up or by the development of airborne spores containing harmful bacteria or fungi. Without using harsh chemicals there is no way of ensuring the toys are free from harmful bacteria. To ensure the safety of the children who will be playing with these toys, it would be my advice not to retain any toys in close proximity to the flood waters.”
Tuesday 12th of February marked an extremely sad occasion, one we will never forget, as we had the mammoth task of cleaning out the building. Due to the limited access allowed to the building, this would not have been possible without the assistance of the Royal Australian Air Force, to whom we are eternally grateful. With protective clothing and polypropylene masks, they extracted the toys and dug up the sandpit from the council owned premises. Needless to say, the 5cm thick sludge and foul-smelling environment was overwhelming. Even though there were toys up high that did not touch the water, they were deemed contaminated due to the fact that they were stored in close confinements with the category 3 black water that inundated all three toy library rooms of the building. Following the advice we received, it was deemed likely that airborne organisms settled onto all toys, including cracks, corners and crevices that are unable to be cleaned thoroughly without using harsh chemicals which could also be harmful to children.
Although the decision to remove all toys from the premises was not made lightly, our children’s safety is our number one priority and with deadly bacteria lurking we are not prepared to take any risks. We pride ourselves on having chemical free, safe toys for our community to use and we plan to continue this service going forward.
We are incredibly fortunate however that almost 600 toys, and many popular gold star items, are currently on loan to our members and we hold onto the hope that many of these have remained unaffected by flood waters and we can welcome their return to our service when the time is right.
We are determined to get back on our feet as soon as possible to support the families that have lost everything and bring community spirit back to the forefront. Our committee is 100% committed to seeing the Toy Library running again. Our desire to find (or build) a new premises is strong and with the support of the Townsville City Council, our local defence forces and our 335 members we are sure to be back on track in no time. Thank you once again for all the support you, our fellow members and wider community, have continued to offer us during this difficult time.
TTL Open Information Session
We held an information session for members and the general public on 30 March 2019. A summary of the questions and answers from that session can be found here: TTL Open Information Session Summary.