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Caboolture Flooding, Urban and the Community

Transcripts and bits and pieces:

Thank you for your company and welcome to the Morning Magazine, this is Wednesday’s Community Forum for 6 May 2015 and I’m Andrew McCarthy-Wood with you through till midday.

We’re broadcasting right across the Moreton Bay region and the surrounding areas. A place that has it all.

We have great people including listeners like yourself, highways, train lines, shopping centres, seasides, parks and mountains, businesses with determination and a compassionate community (just like those heroes that did everything they could to save those swept off the road in their vehicles during the floods last Friday).

This is the place to work, rest and play.

Quick funny:
Not today

Before we get into the show, a little bit about this station, Moreton Bay’s Own Radio – 101.5FM. We are a not for profit community station made up of volunteers.

This means we rely on people like you to become members and support this valuable community asset.

Day to day, 101.5FM, is responsible for delivering important information including local traffic conditions, local weather reports and warnings and general news and entertainment.

These responsibilities escalate during times of emergencies such as during storms, floods and fires. This becomes most important when other communicating methods of getting information are overwhelmed, congested or completely fail.

So, become a member – for details, head to – 1015fm.com.au.

Alternatively, you can call 5495 1015.

Thank you for your support.

Let’s get into it…

Last Friday and the weekend that followed is a period to stay clear in memory for many people in the Moreton Bay region. It should have been this case because the Urban Country Music Festival was meant to happen over this weekend, but instead, it was because of the acute and devastating flooding.

We’ll talk more about the Urban Country Music Festival later, but first, the flooding experienced last Friday afternoon approached uncompromisingly fast, albeit, not without warning. And this event was to prove devastating because of the loss of property and homes that was to ensue.

But more importantly, devastating because of the loss of human life. Fellow community members that would be no more.

Also from what I hear, this event would create some heroes.

So let’s look at how this ruinous Friday afternoon unfolded.

In the days leading up to Friday afternoon, weather forecasts were saying that there was a serious weather event on its way headed for the south-east Queensland area that may be similar in outcome to the weather event that hit NSW a little time earlier.

Infact, Channel Nine News broadcasted the Thursday evening before: “A new low pressure weather system off Australia’s east coast has parts of southern Queensland and northern NSW bracing for heavy falls and near-cyclonic wind this weekend.

The broadcast continued to say: “South-east Queensland including the Fraser Coast, Gold Coast and inland to the Darling Downs is set to receive falls of up to 400mm this afternoon and tomorrow.”

And sure enough, the weather forecasters were pretty well spot on this time. So why did it all go so horribly wrong and why were people during and directly after the flash-flooding jumping on social media and venting about a lack of preparedness and immediate response to the situation, particularly by the Moreton Bay Regional Council?

Reflecting on an event like this is important, this is how we learn and avoid repeat outcomes we never want to see again in the future.

Many in the community said they hadn’t seen this kind of flooding in the area ever before. But while flooding events have been different in the past, in the Caboolture area, particularly Caboolture East, Beerburrum Rd and Dancers Rd – flooding heights have been higher.

I remember back in the eighties when I lived pretty much in the middle of Caboolture East, Bury St to be exact. And we experienced a flood that reached heights that meant we could canoe and boogie board in the local streets.

But that flooding had a huge difference, the flooding happened over a more protracted time.

The flooding on Friday just gone happened so much faster, even though all the warnings and cautions were in place, people were most certainly stunned and caught off guard, including Council and State Government.

The Courier Mail filed this report:

THE deaths of five people, including a five-year-old boy, have served as a tragic reminder of the danger of crossing flooded roads as Queensland was battered by storms.

AN east coast low swept across the southeast on Friday afternoon, with the relentless downpour cutting off roads, washing away cars, and leaving dozens stranded.

Frustrated motorists spent hours in gridlocked peak hour traffic and the rain wreaked havoc with public transport timetables.

Caboolture, north of Brisbane, was the hardest hit with more than 350mm of rain falling within 24 hours – 277mm in just three hours.

Some drivers took their lives in their hands and attempted to cross flooded roads, defying repeated warnings from authorities.

Two four-wheel-drives were swept into a torrent at 5.30pm during an attempt to cross Beerburrum Road at Caboolture, which had been covered by the swollen King John Creek.

All three occupants in one car drowned – a 74-year-old man, 39-year-old woman and five-year-old boy, all from the same family.

Two people – a 21-year-old woman and her 16-year-old brother – managed to escape the second vehicle.

But they would face an agonising 12-hour wait not knowing what had happened to their 49-year-old father.

His body was recovered 100m downstream early on Saturday.

In nearby Burpengary late on Friday evening, firefighters rescued a 68-year-old woman who was clinging to a tree after she and her husband drove into floodwaters.

The 75-year-old’s body was found more than six hours later.

Emergency Services Minister Jo-Ann Miller said the weather had been devastating.

“Queenslanders know that these families may never be the same again because their loved ones did not make it home.”

An investigation is under way into each incident, Inspector Lee Jeffries said.

“I have only been in the Caboolture area for a limited time, I haven’t seen anything as significant and as tragic as this,” he said.

“In any incident where there is visible floodwater across the road, it can be easily avoided.”

Moreton Bay mayor Allan Sutherland said the SES was stretched to the limit and more than 200 roads had been closed.

“For heaven’s sake … if there’s a sign up and it says the road is closed, it means the road is closed,” he told ABC radio.

“We don’t close them for the fun of it.”

For five hours at the height of the system, emergency services received more than 4000 triple-zero calls – 13 a minute – but Ms Miller said systems held up well.

“It was a situation whereby it was changing continuously,” she said.

There were nearly 246 swift-water rescue incidents reported to the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services with 58 actual rescues performed.

But it was not fair that emergency service personnel were being forced to risk their own safety to rescue residents who ignored warnings, Ms Miller said.

Forecasters say the worst of the system has moved into NSW, but conditions on Queensland’s eroded beaches are still dangerous.

I mentioned earlier, that this event created heros. Well, it was Moreton Bay Regional Council staff – along with others that risked their own lives to rescue those they could in swirling flood waters.

These Council staff members grabbed ropes and helped save the lives of those that got out to safety after those vehicles were swept off the road in the Courier Mail news report just mentioned.

Meanwhile, people continued to vent their frustration at, in their views, the lack of information in relation to road closures and attendance to things like flood signage and keeping trains going.

Queensland Main Road had reportedly two crews, while Moreton Bay Regional Council had about 20 crews to deal with the road flooding situation. But none of the crews could physically mobilise through the flooded gridlock just like so many other motorist experienced.

This doesn’t mean there couldn’t be massive improvements in response to the Friday flooding event by all those involved. And it certainly doesn’t mean we shouldn’t discuss, debate and hold to account those that we elect to lead this community.

And in this community, another casualty to Friday’s floods was the Urban Country Music Festival. But it was a casualty long before the floods came along.

Of course it had to be cancelled, but it didn’t need to be the total loss of an event that it was and was always going to be.

It amazed me just how many people in the region that had absolutely no idea that this event was about to happen. Even though it was always set to financially cost the rate payer.

This cost should have been an investment in the social culture and sense of community within the region. Very much like it used to be, and very much like events such as the Tamworth Music Festival and even historically the Gayndah Orange Festival.

If the Urban Country Music Festival or whatever it should morph into had the business community and wider community front and centre, then cancellations of events inside the overall festivity wouldn’t be a total loss to the very community it was originally put there to benefit.

And then, wouldn’t it mean that this mechanism could be used harder and better than ever before to be used as a platform to drive economic tourism growth and help put the Moreton Bay region on the map?

What’s on your mind?

You can call 07 5495 1015 and have your say, drop by the website – 1015fm.com.au, send an email – radio@1015fm.com.au or socially spend time on the 101.5FM Facebook page which can be found at facebook.com/101.5FM.

Remember, this radio show is all about you.

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About Andrew McCarthy-Wood

Radio Announcer, Freelance News Video/Photographer/Journalist and Media/Marketing Consultant.

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