Sightseers a flood problem

John Newley of the Warwick SES.
John Newley of the Warwick SES. Georja Ryan

LACK of communication, sticky-beaking and backlog of water were among the many issues raised by East Warwick residents at the flood forum, hosted by the Southern Downs Regional Council.

Thirty-two concerned members of the community attended the forum last week to dish up their concerns of how the floods in 2010/11 and 2013 were handled, and have their burning questions answered.

SDRC director of engineering and disaster management group co-ordinator Peter See took the floor to answer what questions he could, alongside John Newley of Warwick SES, Councillor Denise Ingram and manager for community services and community recovery co-ordinator Sheila Stebbings.

Mr See said the apparent lack of warning was one issue many brought to the table.

"Some people were adamant they were not contacted (when the floods started) but I can vouch that the SES did their utmost," Mr See said.

"Discussion was held on in future getting the police to use their sirens to wake heavy sleepers.

"There was also a call for Facebook to be used earlier but there were also many present who do not use Facebook."

He said another thing that got residents fired up was the number of sticky-beakers who wandered around the streets as floodwaters inundated homes.

"They come and watch and this adds to the distress that people go through," Mr See said.

"There were complaints about council and emergency services vehicles causing wash by driving through the floodwaters."

Mr See said another pressing issue from residents was the backlog of water that could not flow beneath the bridges to escape, and rather refilled the eastern area of town.

"The afflux of water was debated as the cause of some of the flooding and the flood study does show that it has an effect on the level of the river upstream of the bridges," he said.

Attendees noted their frustration with people ignoring road closed signs.

They also requested assistance with the raising of homes or relocation in extreme cases.

Residents voiced they would like to have seen more police presence around road closed signs to catch those who chose to ignore the warnings, but with the size of the area that would need to be covered, it could prove difficult.

It was also suggested residents write to their local state and federal members to seek funding with house raising.

Mr See advised flood maps would be distributed to homes to provide residents with height gauges and further information about floods.

Community development officer Pam Burley called the forum "a success" and said she had received positive feedback from those who attended.

"When people have been through trauma like this, they want to know somebody is listening and somebody cares," Mrs Burley said.

"A lot of mixed stories came out of it - some good and others had concerns."

Issues raised at the forum are currently being tabled by the disaster management group and then the next step will be determined.

The forum ran for about three and a half hours.

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