John Farley, SES unit controller, Mullumbimby
The operational period of the current floods started 1pm on Saturday and continued till late afternoon Thursday. There are still a quite a few big tree jobs to finalise this coming week.
A total of 270 jobs were logged including over 220 ‘trees down/trees threatening’ requests for assistance, all manner of roof damage, one collapse and several rescues. Tim Breen and Jack Maloney, from Mullumbimby SES’s Swift Water Rescue team, want to thank the residents of Mullum Creek who assisted in the medical emergency rescue in floodbound upper Mullum Creek.
Overall 18 local SES volunteers manned the operation over six days – of these about 13 formed the backbone of the field teams and operations centre team, with others rotating shifts whenever possible.
Of course an operation of the size is normally not possible with such a small team. As usual we have relied on support from volunteers from Rural Fire Service and Volunteer Rescue Association, as well as one team from NSWFR. In this event we also managed to get an extra SES team from Albury on the third day – not easy to reach us through the flood conditions. In this particular event the ‘trees down’ situation dominated. A huge number of these trees were giants and beyond the scope of SES and assisting agency storm teams. SES must also rely heavily on tree contractors. We had four different operators on the go from first light till after dark.
In 2009 Byron Shire was hit with a massive hail storm and flood event with more than 400 jobs logged. Trees were not a large part of the damage, so that the bulk of response was met by storm teams. What this highlights is that SES needs more volunteers – in the field and in the operations centre. SES numbers have dropped again. It’s always the case – people’s circumstances change, they move away, they have work commitments or are just plain exhausted. The RFS volunteers have only just returned from fighting fires in Coonabarabran but they still came to the aid of the community.
I want to thank the many volunteers involved in the event. They’ve all performed marvellously in a difficult event. I also want to thank all the affected residents of Byron Shire for their patience.’