Local Diaster Management Group debrief on cyclone Deb
Redlands has super efficient and effective disaster management services and groups. I have learnt so much of the workings and am very proud to be a part of this team as Chair of Disaster Management Recovery. I thought I would share some notes from yesterday’s meeting as a matter of interest so you can understand that it isn’t just while the wild winds are here these good folk are working but before and after events many groups continue to support our community.
I have written just briefly some of the interesting points but if you ever want to know more pop onto our Redland City Council web site as our Local Disaster Management Plans are there.
Wednesday 17th May 2017
Redland City Council
Local Disaster Management Group
Today we held our regular meeting which was actually a debrief on Cyclone Debbie 28th – 31st March 2017
The various agencies involved all gave a brief on their participation which was very interesting and also very important that other agencies learnt from their experiences as well.
Queensland Police Service QPS and Queensland Fire Service QFS explained how new communication practises worked well to keep teams across the state up to date plus satisfy the general publics thirst for updates.
Mayors across Queensland were also heavily involved in these updates and were in contact with each other informing and warning of concerns in their local areas.
All services were activated on the 28-03-17 and stood down on the 13-04-17 – there 75 emergency alerts and 34 Local Government areas were involved.
There were over 10,000 Rapid Disaster Management Assessments which also involved over 7,000 SES personal assisting.
SES in SEQ did 121 jobs with over 82 volunteers stepping up..this added up to over 1,400 volunteer hours in our area plus 20 local SES were redeployed to North Qld. The SES cleared dangerous fallen vegetation rom both private and public areas, assisted with sand bagging, went to private homes to assist with roof flooding, searches for missing people, check areas to observe flooding and decide on situations...their skills and inputs cannot be underestimated.
A new system allowed residents to be contacted back before SES attended call outs to ensure it was actually an SES job and what equipment might be needed. This aided the SES greaty and saved time in the long run.
In Redlands we actually ran out of sand bags and the sand bag company needs a thank you as the owner having sent staff home did several ute trips himself to ensure sand bags were delivered.
People have to remember that SES are volunteers and to treat these volunteers with respect and be grateful…a few were actually abused during the cyclone which is unacceptable.
Due to the pre-warning Redland City Council did a lot of preliminary work of checking and cleaning out local flood areas and catch pits etc which reduced some incidents.
Over 800 jobs were listed to do with cleaning up related to the cyclone . These were prioritised across the City including the islands and the crews are still working through these on top of their normal work schedule….approx 100 jobs still to go which by now are all in the low priority.
Our waste and water personal having prior warning of the cyclone brought in additional electrical personal ,manned a 24 hour roster and did simply things as remove man hole covers where they expected pressure to build up.
During the event seriously high water flows were recorded and Thorneside waste treatment station had a power outage and at Capalaba treatment works inlet flows exceeded what it could handle so crews had to work through this pressure. Some houses were without water for a while but once conditions were deemed safe the crews were back and fixed it quickly.
Redland City Council officers before the storm also went along the beaches at NSI to warn campers of the pending weather event. Respite centres were set up for the campers to shelter in.
An issue not experienced before was the wash of rubbish and dangerous items from Logan River out into the Bay. Dead animals, 20’ containers, trees etc were all in the fast out flowing tide which interrupted ferry and barge services to our Bay Islands. Redlands have up to 10,000 people living on our islands who rely on this transport but the conditions were deemed too unsafe. Emergency respite centres were established on the mainland in Redland Bay by Council for Island folk that were stranded.
Clearing of the rubbish and dangerous items commenced in the Bay once the weather event passed.
The Salvation Army were fantastic and assisted with the Red Cross in the evacuation centres with catering etc. Both agencies had many requests for assistance across the State and the Salvation Army is still heavily involved in the recovery program especially in Airlie Beach, Bowen and Logan areas. New cases are still presenting as people realise they can’t do it themselves.
The Ambulance service was also very busy and had issues in the Jimboomba and Beaudesert areas with the flooding stopping people getting to work or the ambulance getting to jobs.
The Department of Transport and Main Roads had 1.3 million hits on their app which made them the most popular app in Australia at that time! People are using facebook and modern media more and more than the traditional means of information such as radio etc.
Some roads were destroyed in areas near Ipswich but they had inspectors out 24 hours across SEQ checking areas and giving updates.
DTMR were surprised at the number of family spectators that were at flooded creeks etc and sometimes out in dangerous weather to “show the children a flood”….more irresponsible people were also driving fast into flooded waters to make waves. These people not only endanger their own lives but those of others in the Services out doing their jobs.
QR reported minimal rail damage.
Volunteering Qld reported over 1000 calls in SEQ and had over 350 volunteers assisting.
GIVIT supported over 12 local government areas and were able to match 45,000 items. They had a fantastic response fro corporations across the country donating. They are still receiving calls as are the Red Cross.
Energex now Energy Qld had 170,000 call at their peak but were able to work through and quickly restore power in most cases. Due to the warning they were able to deploy crews to the Bay items before the storm hit incase of any emergencies.
Surf Live Savers had one medical alert and flew a resident down from North Qld. They carried out observation flights over the Bay to check boats and were also involved in a search for a missing man in Logan.
Many lessons were learnt and discussed so there is continual improvements.
The most concerning fact I believe is that NBN is reliant on power being supplied and medical alert buttons therefore don’t work without power. One elderly lady in Bowen was pushing her button for help for three days until power came back on…
Our Chaplaincy program was also discussed with further training happening next week so we don’t just repair the buildings but also the people in the community after tragedies.
This will hopefully give a small insight into the work of the various groups that is on going and how grateful we should be to have such amazing volunteers and service personal working to keep us safe 24/7.