Mother of all floods

Colourful Rolleston grazier Max Mayne speaks at the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry in Emerald yesterday.
Colourful Rolleston grazier Max Mayne speaks at the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry in Emerald yesterday.

DESPITE submitting statements that vastly contradicted each other, landowner Max Mayne and councillor Gail Nixon agreed on one point at yesterday’s Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry – Rolleston needs better disaster management co-ordination.

Mr Mayne, whose 2832ha property was largely inundated by the December/January floods, commended the role Cr Nixon played during the disaster and said better communication facilities and more gauging stations in the Comet River catchment would help residents better prepare for future disasters.

It would assist the Local Disaster Management Group, which struggled to accurately prepare residents in Rolleston and Springsure prior to the record event, he said.

Mr Mayne told the Emerald inquiry sitting he’d been told by a neighbour upstream of Meteor Creek a “big woomabanga” was headed his way.

A woomabanga, he explained, was “the mother of all floods” when asked to clarify the term by Commissioner Justice Catherine Holmes, who also asked how rural landowners communicated when phone lines went out, and was told it was through two-way radio.

He told of a rescue he’d performed in his privately owned helicopter of three people stranded in a car on the outskirts of Rolleston.

But it was the restrictions placed on avgas provisions which Mr Mayne identified as a crucial mistake, and said if it hadn’t been for friends with their own supplies, he couldn’t have brought back vital supplies to Rolleston.

Cr Nixon, who operated from her home as the Rolleston and Springsure Local Disaster Management Group chairwoman, told the inquiry the area would be better served by the establishment of its own LDMG base.

She said the Central Highlands Regional Council had also been “talking about towers for years” with Telstra to ensure better mobile phone coverage was available for residents.

A locally based disaster group with the authority to take action on its own, she said, would cut out the framework and enable faster response times for residents in need of assistance. The Emerald sitting continues this morning.

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