Brigades help flood-affected communities bounce back

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CFA brigades across the state’s south east have been working tirelessly since last Wednesday night, supporting VICSES and other agencies in the clean-up effort following major flooding and storm activity.


Significant rainfall in Central Gippsland and wider south east region on Wednesday night and Thursday resulted in riverine flooding and an Evacuation Warning was issued for the Traralgon Creek area. 


The Traralgon Creek rose four metres in around four hours on Thursday morning and the area peaked around 5.8 metres, its highest peak since 1978.


Brigades in CFA’s Hyland and Merton Group have been particularly busy across the La Trobe Valley region, banding together to help community organisations and residents.


Traralgon East 3rd Lieutenant Leigh Roberts said following the destructive weather last week, the Hyland Group organised a coordinated clean-up effort over the long weekend.


“We spent the entire day on Sunday and Monday helping the local Football Netball Club, Traralgon Tennis Stadium, Traralgon Showgrounds, Men’s Shed and Roller Derby Club clean up those facilities,” he said.


“This was a massive effort by everyone involved and I’m proud we were able to help.


“After the major flooding and storm on Thursday last week, the rain came back Friday night and Saturday morning which increased water levels in Traralgon Creek again.


Brigades across many parts of the state were responding in support of VICSES and other agencies to trees across roads, powerlines down and assisting persons to evacuate premises.


More than 220,000 households across the state were without power last week and over the weekend as a result of the destructive weather.

“There’s still a lot of destruction around; fences down, damage to roads and footpaths lifted by flood waters, as well as trees down and road closures still in place,” 3rd Lt Roberts said.


“There will be a lot of work to do in the coming weeks and months.


“Brigades in the Hyland Group will continue chipping in to help residents and local organisations clean-up.”


Hyland Group Officer Simon Lund said members have been putting the ultraheavy tanker to the test, utilising its 9,000-litre capacity to clean-up facilities using recycled water.


“Members were out moving debris and clearing mud all weekend,” GO Lund said.


“There were some brigades within the Group that couldn’t assist because the damage had restricted their access, but those members have helped by remaining on standby, ready to respond at a moment’s notice.


“Our Group has really come together this week and I’m rapt with everyone’s effort.”


He said the Group will be liaising with the District office to coordinate teams for chainsaw operations to help clear trees from roads over the coming week.


“Where needed, our brigades will be ready to help out as part of the recovery process,” GO Lund said.


“We are going to be putting in a lot of work over the next few weeks to help our community bounce back from this.”

3rd Lt Roberts said in times of emergencies it can be easy to forget emergency services members can also be directly impacted, so many volunteers checked in on one another.


“I reached out to most of the Captains from surrounding brigades to see how their members are going,” he said.


“The last 24 months has not been easy for Gippsland and the broader south east region with fires, the pandemic and now major flooding, but the community response in times like this is still overwhelming.


“Not just emergency services, but the broader community have given up their time and effort to help out one another – there are so many helping people they’ve never met before – our community spirit has been phenomenal.”


Deputy Chief Officer South East Region Trevor Owen said CFA’s response to these events right across the south east is a testament to our member’s willingness to put their community first during any emergency.


“There has been a huge amount of resources deployed to assist communities in neighbouring Districts,” he said.


“It demonstrates how agile and dedicated our CFA membership is.”


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Submitted by CFA News & Media