SYDNEY - THE city of Brisbane on Australia's east coast was like a 'war zone', Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said on Tuesday as troops led recovery efforts after a deadly storm.
Mr Rudd had his flight home from the United States - where he attended the G20 summit on the global financial crisis - diverted to Brisbane to assess the damage to his home town caused by Sunday night's storm.
'It looks like a war zone, and it feels like a war zone, and what's good about it is the people pulling together and neighbours looking after each other,' Mr Rudd told reporters.
'If we need more troops to clean this mess up they will be provided immediately and we'll respond immediately to the requests of the disaster management coordination authorities.'
The storm damaged about 4,000 homes, destroying at least 30, flattened cars and felled power lines, plunging large swathes of the city into darkness, emergency service officials said.
A 20-year-old man died when he was swept away while photographing the dramatic weather - described as the worst to hit the area in 25 years - from a stormwater drain north of Brisbane.
More than 8,000 homes were still without power in Brisbane and on the nearby tourist destinations of the Gold and Sunshine Coasts as some 370 troops joined fire-fighters, police and volunteers in clean-up operations Tuesday.
'This is just the beginning of what's going to be a long-term clean-up and I think the important thing for us all is to keep faith with the people who have been horribly affected by this,'Mr Rudd said.
The prime minister announced financial assistance for families whose homes had been damaged by the storm, saying the government would work to make sure they could enjoy a Christmas that is as close to normal as possible. -- AFP