News & Media

From the Chief - flood victims support

By: Euan Ferguson

  11.00 AM 24 January, 2011

Views: 8679

CFA Ramps Up To Support Flood Victims

Last week CFA and DSE, on the advice of SES, VicPol and DHS readied for a new task in the wake of the floods occurring in the west and north of the State.  We accepted the role of “clean up” in the immediate time after flood waters receded.  CFA and DSE then established a structure that reported to O/O Rohan Luke on the Regional Relief and Recovery Committee.  R/C Mike Wassing initially represented CFA on the Regional Emergency Management Team, then accepted the role of Chair of that Team in order to free up SES personnel.

CFA and DSE established a “Clean Up” and recovery support cell led by R/C’s Alan Ellis and David Sherry that sought taskings from DHS and Municipalities and then allocated resources to those properties.  This role was in addition to the actual “response” to the flood which was being run from the ICC.  The “Clean Up Cell” functioned like a Divisional Command and was supported by local volunteers and staff from Loddon Mallee Region.

Significant Resources Now Allocated To Clean Up

Last week local resources were allocated to flood response.  As the waters recede, more requests have been received.  At time of writing, 11 CFA strike teams and about 8 CFA municipal recovery assessment teams have been tasked to the Wimmera, Avoca, Loddon and Campaspe Catchments.  DSE has diverted their summer firefighters onto the clean up task.  CFA personnel are tasked for 3 days work then return home.  This would bring the total number of CFA and DSE personnel involved in the operation up to around 350.   Taskings include moving heavy furniture items, assisting to clean private residences, clean up of public and sporting facilities and removal of debris.

Major Base Camps Established

Two Base Camps have been established by DSE teams at St Arnaud and Huntly.  DSE has set up rows of 4 person tents and huge cooker, washing ablutions and stores vans and containers have been set up to support CFA and DSE personnel.  CFA has established Staging Areas at both Base Camps to monitor crew comings and goings.

A Fantastic Effort All Around

On Saturday I made a quick trip into the area of operations to check on arrangements and to talk first hand with CFA leaders and personnel.  The role on the ground performed by emergency services was inspirational.  CFA, DSE, SES, Ambulance, VicPol, local government, businesses and ordinary citizens were striving together to combat and clean up after the flood waters.

I met so many special people.

At Carisbrook, Captain Ian Boucher told me about his 2nd Lt Phil Leach who became the community “fix-it” man whilst brigade members were around and about the town.  The overalls on the peg, dried stiff with a fine coating of silt and sand told its own story of the inundation of the Carisbrook Fire Station.

At Charlton Captain Brendan Byrne proudly introduced me to F/f “Vinnie” Bryan who is a long term member.  Vinnie worked extraordinarily to ensure the Brigade was able to function.  I also met F/f’s Luke Byrne and Matt Hobbs who were responsible for retrieving and rescuing “many” people from swiftly rising floods waters.  I also heard reports of a certain (nameless) Regional Manager who was seen up to his knees in water and driving a CFA appliance to assist in rescues.   Strike Teams from District 14 were seen hard at it helping Charlton residents.

At Kerang O/M Mark Owens and SSO Peter Barr inspected levees around the town and the electricity sub station.  Mark told of the urgency of levee construction efforts as flood waters rose.  Every truck, ute and piece of earth moving machinery was involved in an effort to transport sandbags and black plastic to reinforce the levee.  The town was galvanised o a common goal.

Finally, at Rochester I shared a cup of tea with Captain Mick and his wonderful Brigade.  Over 170 retrievals were performed by members in difficult and dangerous conditions.  Once again, many individuals performed acts of extraordinary effort and bravery.  Assistance in the clean up came from an off-duty shift at Bendigo Fire Station and from a Strike Team from District 13.

To all of you:  “Thank You!  Great work!  Keep up the effort – There is more work to be done in the coming days.  Keep on helping your mates in need.”

Quote of the week:

"The greatest achievement of the human spirit is to live up to one's opportunities and to make the most of one's resources."

- Vauverargues

Last Updated: 10 December 2015