CFA firefighters have stepped into the novel role of transporting kids isolated by floodwater in Echuca to school.
Major flooding has impacted the Echuca township in many ways, including cutting off road access to community infrastructure and services such as schools.
Families near Warren Street, Echuca, have had to consider potentially unsafe methods of getting kids to school, but local CFA members have arranged a safe school pick-up and drop-off service.
CFA Commander Phil Rogan said when asked by the team at the Regional Control Centre, Bainbridge brigade volunteer Hardy Clemens offered his ex-military 1985 Unimog vehicle to help transport school children safely across the floodwater.
“They’ve organised Echuca CFA members to organise a pick-up point and help coordinate the safe transportation across the floodwater each morning and afternoon,” Commander Rogan said.
“This is a perfect example of local people meeting local needs.”
Hardy said the Mercedes Unimog truck was approved to drive safely through floodwater thanks to its fording depth of up to 1.2 metres, which gives it the ability to effortlessly pass through waters up to that level.
“We pick the kids up in the morning on one side and travel through up to 500 metres of floodwater and get them to the ‘dry side’, where they can safely make their way to school,” he said.
CFA members and the Regional Control Centre have arranged two pick-up trips and two drop-off trips each day and will use this service as long as it’s needed.
While it’s not a conventional form of school transport, Hardy said his Unimog truck got an A+ from the local kids, with lots of smiles as they loaded up into the truck.
“They were rapt to get taken to school in the truck. It was pretty special for them,” Hardy said.
“The vehicle is kitted out with personal floatation devices and is much safer to drive through this level of floodwater than an ordinary vehicle.”