Fears of wet season strife

EMERGENCY services are ramping up their summer preparation with the latest weather predictions suggesting a high November rainfall could kick-start another hellish wet season.

At yesterday’s Southern Downs Regional Council’s engineering services committee meeting, Cr Cameron Gow said at a Local Disaster Management Group meeting last week, Emergency Management Queensland advised the group to gear up for a potential flood in November.

“We could be facing another wet season that’s similar to or even worse than the one we’ve already had,” Cr Gow, who is deputy chair of the group, said.

With fuel loads at an almost uncontrollable level due to last summer’s rain and recent weather conditions preventing clearing and burn offs, the bush fire threat will also be high.

Cr Gow said, while the local group was a long way down the track, an extra meeting had been arranged to ensure all the necessary precautions were in place for disasters.

“We’ve been mentioned as one of the areas well equipped to deal with an event, but I think we can do better than that,” he said.

Cr Gow recognised the region’s difficulty in protecting some of the outlying towns which don’t have their own disaster management group.

During last summer’s flood events, council said it realised the difficulty it had dealing with disasters in both Warwick and Stanthorpe.

It has since set up a group in the region’s south but it’s missing some key personnel.

Cr Ross Bartley said Allora and Killarney, which are both on flood plains, experience a similar problem but they have no SES presence in their communities.

Councillors moved a recommendation for Mayor Ron Bellingham and chief executive Rod Ferguson to call a meeting of interested parties to discuss the plan for the Local Disaster Management Group.

At the recent Disaster Management for Local Government Conference, which the engineering director and governance officer attended, it was revealed the overall damage in the Queensland events was 15 times greater than the average annual Australian Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) funding use.

Councils were told to advise their communities they need to be prepared to survive on their own for 72 hours.

Social networking sites like facebook were also seen to be useful tools in providing information to the public during disasters.

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