Flood of support for regional communities
A C-17A Globemaster touched down in South Australia on October 1, delivering a resupply of much-needed sandbags as heavy rainfall again hit the state.
Teams of around 30-to-40 personnel worked 12-hour shifts around the clock in severe weather conditions to provide Defence Aid to the Civil Community (DACC).
About 200,000 sandbags were delivered to the townships of Two Wells and Port Wakefield to help ease the overflow of the Gawler River and the flooding of local communities.
Personnel were originally placed on four-hours notice to move and, from the time of receiving the request from the State Emergency Service (SES), the ADF personnel were activated and achieved a response time of about two hours to get to the coordination site.
Senior ADF Officer Edinburgh Defence Precinct Air-Cdre Stephen Meredith was pleased to see how well the base united and responded collectively to the task over the long weekend break.
“Base personnel responded magnificently to the request for support, even though it meant their long weekend and grand final plans changed,” he said.
“This is just another example of RAAF Base Edinburgh personnel being responsive to incidents in support of our local community.
“Last year we assisted our community in combating bushfires; this time it was floods.”
Vice President of the Virginia Country Fire Service Joel Smith said the support provided by ADF personnel was important to help ease the impact of the floods and relieve SES volunteers who remained on call to respond to other emergencies.
“It has been a real team effort with everyone pitching in to help those in need,” Mr Smith said.
ADF personnel provided flood relief to the community alongside the SA Country Fire Service, SA Police, SA Metropolitan Fire Service, Western Australian Fire and Emergency Services, Victoria SES, Emergency Management Australia, State Recovery and State Relief.
In NSW, soldiers from 5 Bde provided support to towns in regional NSW following major flooding.
At the request of the NSW government through Emergency Management Australia, the ADF provided DACC to local emergency services in the towns of Forbes, Condobolin and the surrounding area with the deployment of vehicles and personnel.
The people of Condobolin, a town of just over 3500 people about 100km west of Parkes, saw Unimogs pass through the town assisting emergency services with route reconnaissance.
The soldiers also helped transport personnel and sandbags, as well as rescue and relocate small animals.
DACC Commander Capt Ian Goodwin said the efforts by the various agencies was important and provided much-needed support.
“The cooperation between the agencies was exceptional,” Capt Goodwin said.
The ADF provided the mobility transport service to enable the SES and swiftwater rescue teams to conduct their clearances and checks of flood water areas.
“I’m really pleased with how all of the ADF personnel conducted themselves and to see how proud they were to be helping and working with the other agencies,” Capt Goodwin said.
“It’s a great thing to be able to help our fellow Australians.”
Michael Toms, a member of the swiftwater rescue team from NSW Fire and Rescue, said the interagency cooperation was positive.
“The working relationship was professional and I think the community felt a sense of relief with the presence of the various agencies,” Mr Toms said.
“The general sentiment among them was positive.”
Grateful for the ADF assistance, RSL Club President Keith Hartin said it was wonderful to see the ADF uniform around the town helping residents.
“When the elements come and affect us, as they do, it’s great to have the support and help from the various agencies and, of course, our uniformed personnel. We absolutely appreciate the help,” Mr Hartin said.
“We are a small community that supports each other. These events affect us all.”
Soldiers from 5ER, 5CSSB, 1/19RNSWR, 1/15RNSWL and 4/3RNSWR were involved in the NSW DACC task, including Pte Julie Henson – a reservist with 1/19RNSWR and school teacher.
She said helping the Condobolin community was incredibly rewarding.
“I loved being part of such a successful operation assisting the local community and working with emergency services personnel,” she said.
“We’ve shared knowledge and skills to ensure the best outcomes are achieved.
“Our team collected a local man from his property, which could only be accessed via Army trucks or boat, only to discover we were also collecting two of his adorable cats.”
The Condobolin community, including the mayor and councillors, thanked and farewelled the ADF contingent during a barbecue at a local park on October 14.