Communication questioned in inquiry

DISTRICT Disaster Co-ordinator Senior Sergeant Greg Morrow was asked about communication from SunWater, the operator of three of the areas’ dams, at the Flood Commission in Goondiwindi this morning.

Counsel Assist Elizabeth Wilson asked Snr Sgt Morrow, who is responsible for co-ordinating the disaster management group which took in both the Southern Downs and Goondiwindi, about how he was informed about the release of water from the dams.

SunWater controls Leslie, Coolumunda and Glenlyon dams and there have been previous concerns raised about the release from Leslie Dam, with water blocking the Cunningham Highway.

Snr Sgt Morrow said the dam operators did contact him about the release of water and he asked about the volume and repercussions.

He said he assumed SunWater would also contact the local disaster management group.

A representative from the dam operators asked Snr Sgt Morrow if he was aware the District Disaster Co-ordinator had the operation plans for the dams and was informed about the process involved in emergency conditions to maintain the integrity of the dam.

Snr Sgt Morrow said he was and that SunWater had kept him well informed about water releases and had a comprehensive list of contacts available.

The SunWater representative asked if, on January 5, Snr Sgt Morrow received a call two and a half hours before the release of water.

He said he had many phone calls and couldn’t remember but he did receive warning of the release.

Within the district, Snr Sgt Morrow said his role was made more difficult by differing chains of command as Goondiwindi was looked after by Toowoomba and Warwick answerable to Ipswich in varying departments.

However he told the commission improvements were already being made across the district.

“Both councils are taking lessons learned and have started to take actions to address some of the shortfalls,” he said.

He suggested there needed to be an understanding between hierarchy in the area.

Goondiwindi’s evacuation process was the main focus of the questioning, as “trigger points” were not in place by the local authority before the flood.

The next witnesses to be called will be discussing the flood in Goondiwindi.

Southern Downs Council CEO Rod Ferguson will appear later today as the Local Disaster Coordinator for the Southern Downs.



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