Police patrol rising floodwaters in Emerald.
Police patrol rising floodwaters in Emerald.

Flood report releases its recommendations

THE preparation and execution of emergency response by the Central Highlands Regional Council has been highlighted and praised in the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry Interim Report.

Its release has brought Queensland’s summer of disaster horrors to the surface once again, outlining 175 recommendations for all levels of government in their approach to managing devastating floods.

But just 65 applied to local governments compared to 104 for the State Government and six federally.

The controversial LN1 drain, which many residents claimed would not have contributed to Emerald’s flooding to such a degree had it been cleared and maintained by the council, was noted in section 3.2 of the report.

“The (CHRC) cleared vegetation and debris from drainage systems and flood gates to ensure these would not back up or overflow with the heavy rainfall predicted over the wet season,” the report said.

“The Central Highlands Regional Council provided its local SES and emergency service units with a new flood boat, new tyres for an existing vehicle, replacement boat propellers and hired an additional four-wheel drive vehicle.

“The council also worked with the Bureau of Meteorology and other bodies to ensure its ALERT river height and rainfall gauge network was operating correctly.”

The performance of flood indicators was another concern raised by residents during extensive community consultations held in the aftermath of the flooding that inundated more than 1000 homes.

The CHRC and Barcaldine Regional Council were commended for the sharing of information in the lead-up to the 2010/2011 wet season.

“After the 2008 Emerald floods, the (CHRC) developed a guide for residents that was distributed throughout the shire,” the report said.

At the CHRC’s suggestion, the inquiry recommended councils work with BOM to “examine the feasibility of and priorities for installing additional river height and rainfall gauges in areas of identified need”.

“The actions taken by the CHRC provide a good example of how information about river heights at particular gauges can be made understandable to residents,” the report said.

“The council’s local disaster co-ordinator met with residents of a street at high-risk of flooding and advised them what river height at the Fairbairn Dam spillway gauge would result in water over the floors of their houses.”

It was also recommended local councils should permit landowners to carry out temporary flood repairs on public roads to assist with transport concerns following the declaration of the CHRC it has been a normal practice in the region.

Local knowledge of water heights and predicted flood levels should also be seriously considered, the report said.

The Commission is scheduled to hold further sittings around the state before publishing its final report in February.

Inquiry recommendations

 Fairbairn Dam operators be included in local disaster management group meetings

 Councils prepare SMS alert templates

 SMS alerts direct people to more information sources

 Council works with EMQ to limit SMS delays

 AgForce and DEEDI jointly co-ordinate fodder drops

 Councils consider the use of siren alerts

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