Flood survey is 'vital' to build case
PRODUCERS battling in the aftermath of the January flood are still being urged to complete a vital damage survey, despite a large chunk of the Warwick area being upgraded to Category C recovery assistance this week.
With some farmers known to be at psychological breaking point in the face of six-figure damage bills, the council and state authorities want as much information from them as they can, to back a case for more federal help.
A second meeting of the Southern Downs Regional Council Flood Information Group at Glengallan Homestead has been called for Monday, after a gathering there of farmers last week to discuss available assistance.
Category C funding under Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) can entitle farmers and flood-affected rural small businesses to grants of up to $25,000 to fix fences and other assets.
But a push is on for a further upgrade of the area to Category D - the highest under the NDRRA - which includes concessional loans of more than half a million dollars.
No parts of Queensland have yet been declared as Category D, even with the level of damage in other areas such as in the North Burnett and Bundaberg.
Southern Downs Mayor Peter Blundell yesterday said council would look at the option of giving rates relief this year to those worst affected, but said this had not been the case after previous floods.
"Under the (Local Government) Act council is able to consider rate relief on the basis of genuine hardship," Cr Blundell said.
"It would need to be a council decision and that discussion would take place at the time of formulating the budget.
"Personally I do believe that some form of rate relief may be appropriate where circumstances of extreme hardship do exist. However, it has not been a practice that the council has favourably considered in the past.
"For instance, rate relief was not allowed as a result of the 2010-2011 flooding."
Monday's meeting at Glengallan Homestead will include a progress report by council and state officers on relief available to date. It will also canvass a Category D upgrade, additional council assistance and a guided tour of the valley for councillors.
What to do...
Attend the meeting this coming Monday of flood-affected producers at 10.30am sharp at the Glengallan Homestead Heritage Centre, New England Hwy.
For more information on the meeting, call Graham Kirkland on 0419 773 455.
Complete the council's flood damage survey, vital to build a case for more Federal help.
Find it online at southerndowns.qld.gov.au or get a copy from the council's Warwick office on Fitzroy St.
For more advice on flood assistance call Nick Edols (council) on 0427 020 167 or Justin Heaven (State Development) on 0407 582 367.