GYMPIE Region volunteers, including a strong contingent from Goomeri, are in the thick of Queensland’s flood disaster, helping Bundaberg victims cope as their town attempts a slow return to normal after its worst floods in 40 years.
And our SES people are likely to be called on again next week to help out with Rockhampton’s widespread inundation disaster, on the Fitzroy River system, just to Bundaberg’s north.
The water is now receding in Bundaberg, on the Burnett River, the next river system north of the Mary, after inundations which drove residents from about 300 homes, not counting damage to businesses, roads, council services and other infrastructure.
A total of 26 State Emergency Service volunteers from Gympie and the Sunshine Coast travelled to Bundaberg yesterday to help out in the clean-up effort.
After settling in to their emergency accommodation, they were scheduled to work for three days, starting yesterday, before returning, probably on Thursday.
“That’s a pretty standard deployment,” Gympie Region SES local controller Terry Clark said yesterday.
Mr Clark said the sought-after skills our region’s volunteers took with them included the marine capabilities of deputy controller, Dean Wardell, who was part of the three-person Goomeri contingent.
“The qualifications they particularly requested were a coxswain certificate, which enables a person to operate a boat in near-shore and inland waters. That’s Dean.
“They also wanted chainsaw qualifications,” he said.
Mr Clark said the call for help had gone out to SES groups around Queensland.
“Gympie Region’s contribution was part of the regional contingent from here and the Sunshine Coast.
“There were six from Gympie Region, which has SES groups at various centres from Imbil and Goomeri to Rainbow Beach.
“Probably the same process will take place when Rockhampton starts its clean-up, but they don’t expect the Fitzroy to peak until about Thursday.
“It will probably take another week after that for the water to recede.
“The Fitzroy Basin is a huge catchment area with a lot of water,” he said, referring to a region which takes up a considerable proportion of coastal and hinterland Queensland.
“They were saying on TV, it’s bigger than Britain and France,” Mr Clark said.
Almost all that water goes to sea via the Fitzroy River, which flows through the middle of Rockhampton.
On the current Bundaberg mission, our volunteers are expected to encounter emotional distress as well as physical damage.
They expect to be working between eight and 12 hours a day, with briefings and debriefings at the start and end of every day.
Acting Bundaberg Mayor Tony Riccardi said the Burnett was still a couple of metres above normal.
Probably the same process will take place when Rockhampton starts its clean-up, but they don’t expect the Fitzroy to peak until about Thursday