When Queenstown was engulfed by severe flooding in 1999’s Big Wet, Tom Thompson (pictured) was aged six.
During last week’s drama, the 17-year-old Fulton Hogan staffer emerged as one of the town’s sandbagging heroes.
He drove his trusty loader doing sandbag delivery runs to flood-prone businesses downtown for more than eight hours.
Thompson raced around doing pick-ups from stations at Memorial Gates in Queenstown Bay and outside Pub On Wharf before dropping loads to grateful Beach and Rees Street retailers from 12.30pm on Thursday to 9pm.
He only stopped for one quick break at 7pm.
“In the loader you don’t really get a break,” he says.
“You’re sitting down the whole time anyway. I just kept on going.
“I had sore as hands today, though, just from lifting sandbags,” he tells Mountain Scene last Friday when back working on Church St’s upgrade.
He has no idea how many loops he did. “Too many loads to count. It’s all good for the community. There were businessmen in suits filling up bags, it was awesome.
“Everyone was there in the soaking rain. It was really good to see all those people helping each other out.”
Thompson’s immediate boss, Fulton Hogan Queenstown asphalt manager Adam Lind, says the former Wakatipu High student was super enthusiastic: “He just loves getting stuck in and helping everyone out.”