January 26, 2024

Worst I've seen: QRA officials discuss Bloomfield Valley flood zone


State Deputy Recovery Coordinator Mike Wassing (left) and QRA CEO Jake Elwood have been working closely with the council, influenced by former TC Jasper.

Coordinating the cleanup and recovery from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the Far North has been no easy task. Queensland Recovery Agency Deputy State Recovery Coordinator Mike Wassing explains some of the measures taken locally…

Since Tropical Cyclone Jasper left a trail of destruction across far north Queensland, the Queensland Recovery Authority has been working closely with local government councils affected by the disaster.

Queensland Recovery Agency CEO Jake Elwood and QRA staff, including myself, have been based in the north since the disaster began.

As well as coordinating and overseeing recovery efforts, QRA personnel assisted with damage assessments and assisted local authorities in delivering emergency supplies to isolated areas using Australian Defence Force and civilian maritime vessels.

The impacts on people and critical infrastructure have been incredible, with the devastation to communities along the Bloomfield River being some of the worst I have seen.

QRA has been working with affected local councils, state government agencies and the Federal Government agency, the National Emergency Management Agency, to provide a range of support services to those hardest hit by former Tropical Cyclone Jasper.

The massive recovery operation involved rotational deployment of personnel from multiple agencies to the scene, including Queensland Fire and Emergency Service, SES, ADF and Australian Disaster Relief Agency.

Their work focuses on providing sustainable access, cleaning and waste removal, reconnecting electricity, and re-establishing reliable water supplies in the community.

It's time-consuming, painstaking work in poor and dangerous conditions.

Helicopters and barges have been used to deliver essential supplies such as food, water and medicine.

Elgon has been doing a fantastic job repairing the poles but organisations such as Indigenous Rangers, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and various community organisations have also come in to help where they can.

The clean-up drive is targeting the worst-affected areas of Ayton, Bloomfield, Degara and Ujjallu Ujjall.

The recovery effort involved a number of agencies, including the ADF and SES volunteers.

Work in these areas is made even more challenging by their inherent isolation, difficulties in access and the threat of further severe weather with the onset of the monsoon season.

Recognizing that each local government has different priorities and requirements, resources were prioritized to maximise benefits to all affected communities.

Firstly, we have made sure people have a safe place to stay, whether that be in their own home or in temporary accommodation.

QRA worked hard to provide safe and suitable temporary accommodation for residents who had rejected offers to relocate to other areas prior to the floods, an offer that is still being made to Degara residents.

We are also working with local governments and various recovery agencies to provide respite options for affected residents who choose to remain in hard-hit areas, and encouraging people to take advantage of those options.

262 households are being evacuated to emergency accommodation across north Queensland.

QRA understands the impact this disaster has had on people and knows the road to recovery will be long and frustrating, which is why we are prioritizing the provision of health services, including mental health services, and encouraging people to access them.

Anyone needing assistance can call the Community Recovery Hotline on 1800 173 349 or visit www.qld.gov.au/disasterhelp.

Additionally, Lifeline has established a dedicated 24/7 phone number (1800 116 671) for affected communities across FNQ.

Community events are also being planned in the affected areas to boost morale among local residents.

QRA implemented a range of support measures for local councils and residents affected by Jasper through the Joint Federal and State Government Disaster Recovery Funding Agreement (DRFA).

This assistance will include disaster response activities such as removing fallen trees, cleaning up debris, and setting up evacuation shelters to respond immediately to disasters.

An additional $1 million in Community Recovery and Recovery Grants will be available to help address local social and community recovery needs, such as providing temporary housing and local transport.

Queensland Recovery Commission Integrated Coordination Director Diane Gray (centre) and Royal Australian Air Force personnel inspect the affected area along the Bloomfield River.

Congress can also require the repair of critical public assets that will aid in the long-term restoration of vital damaged infrastructure, such as roads and bridges.

Other assistance available includes temporary disaster assistance grants, low-interest loans, cargo grants, and a temporary disaster assistance package that includes a $29.95 million FNQ Tourism Recovery and Recovery Program and a $20 million clean-up program.

Disaster assistance is also available to residents directly affected by the disaster.

As of January 17, 2024, more than $6.7 million in Individual Hardship Assistance Grants have been approved, benefiting 37,840 people.

Wherever possible, recovery hubs have been established to provide necessary assistance to affected residents.

QRA understands that this is an incredibly difficult time for those affected.

There will be many issues to address in nearly every aspect of your life, and recovery can reasonably be expected to take months, or even years.

We remain committed to responding to requests for assistance and are grateful for the support and resources from many government agencies, businesses and community organizations.


Source link