Flood expert not so sure region is fully prepared
THE Fraser Coast Regional Council says it has the best preparation plans in place for the next big flood, but not all residents are convinced.
Flood crusader and Granville man Graham Wode has lived through eight major flood events in Maryborough throughout his life, and presented evidence at the 2011 flood commission of enquiry into the heritage city's inundation.
Mr Wode said the latest gauge system and flood monitoring may be the best idea yet - if the gauges were in different places.
He said some of the gauges used by Granville homeowners to see how much time they have before they are cut off from Maryborough were facing down hill, so people would have to stand in the water to read them.
He added some of the gauges were too high from the river bank, not allowing residents enough time to pack up and get out, or stock up their homes.
"[The lower Kent St gauge] starts at 4m high, and Granville becomes isolated at 5.7m," Mr Wode said.
"So this only gives us 1.7m of rising water to prepare."
Near the Lamington Bridge, some of the gauges have been made with non-reflective plastic, which Mr Wode said made them impossible to read when they were semi-submerged in dirty water.
"Where is the common sense in that?" he said.
"The point is so people know how much time they have and if they can't read it, what's the point?"
Mr Wode said he has watched the pre and post amalgamated councils change the region's flood preparation and management plans multiple times over the year.
Fraser Coast disaster management coordinator Mal Churchill said all the gauges around the region were up to standard.
Mr Churchill said the council had extensive discussion with the BoM before deciding where the gauges would go.
"We didn't just pick a random spot and put it there," Mr Churchill said.
"We have planned the best places for people to get the information they need, either
in person or online."
Fraser Coast mayor Gerard O'Connell said the council had spent the last year putting the finishing touches on a number of programs to ensure their alert gauges and automatic weather recording stations were flood ready.
"Council operates a network of 19 gauges across the region, which are augmented by gauges from the state government to feed information to the Bureau of Meteorology to develop flood models," Cr O'Connell said.
The information from these gauges is available on the council's website, where residents can look at flood height information from cameras on the Saltwater Creek Bridge and Lower Kent St.
"We've been working with the businesses in Lower Kent St and Ferry St to ensure they are prepared and their action plans are ready to go," he said.
"We've developed programs with the businesses and police to ensure sightseers are kept out of the way and businesses can get access to remove equipment and stock in a flood.
"The best protection for residents is to be prepared."
During the year, Council tested its emergency plans in an exercise organised by the Queensland Police Service.
"The test, which involved police, ambulance, Main Roads, Queensland Health and the SES, went well," Cr O'Connell said.
"All services are ready to go if needed."
A network of Community Co-ordination Committees across the Fraser Coast has also been set up by the council.
"The 15 groups are made up of locals so they know the local conditions to be prepared," Community Resilience Portfolio Councillor Rolf Light said. In an event, the Community Co-ordination Committees feed information to Council's Disaster Co-ordination Centre on local conditions and help distribute information from the centre to residents.