ADF support to Victorian floods
1 February 2011
Approximately 120 ADF personnel have been involved in providing specialised assistance and emergency support to the Victorian flood-relief effort in response to a request for assistance from Emergency Management Australia.
On 19 January, 100 troops from 4th Brigade Reserve Response Force, under the command of Brigadier Robert Marsh, were deployed to assess areas affected by the flood alongside transport teams already at work assisting with evacuations and delivering sandbags.
The assessment teams conducted 3200 direct observations over five days providing critical and timely information about infrastructure and damage to private property, and reported human and animal distress situations to relevant Victorian Government agencies.
In many cases, ADF teams were the first outside contact for people in flood-affected communities, which brought a boost to their morale.
The 4th Brigade troops moved from Bendigo to Swan Hill where they have been operating for the past week to support the Victorian SES, including transporting up to 300 volunteers from Swan Hill to Lake Boga.
Joining volunteers and SES workers, the ADF have helped to build a new sandbag levy bank along the edge of the lake, protecting up to 300 properties in low-lying areas.
“It’s hard work building a levy bank but it’s a great feeling working with the local volunteers and being involved in helping protect the community,” Melbourne-raised Signalman Goldgan Ng said.
Soldiers have also been working on the railway line south of Lake Boga blocking culverts with sandbags in order to protect property and the highway.
On 24 January, two Navy Seahawk helicopters, having completed assistance operations to Queensland floods, were redeployed to Victoria and have since completed more than 40 flying hours, including delivering 16,000kg of stock feed to starving animals.
The Navy Aviation Liaison Officer to 4th Brigade, Lieutenant Commander Bill Canna, said the flash flooding experienced in Queensland was different to the slow-moving sea of water in the Victorian floods.
“It’s been good to get the chance to conduct inland, low-level reconnaissance. Since we usually operate out at sea, inland, low-level visual navigation has been a different experience,” he said.
“We’ve gained a great deal of job satisfaction from our involvement both in Queensland and Victoria.”
The ADF have been advised by Victorian SES that they have adequate capacity to provide ongoing support and meet future requirements for flood relief.
Residents in flood-affected areas will notice a reduction in ADF personnel numbers as they return to their home units from Swan Hill over the course of the week and as the crisis further subsides.
“The worst of Mother Nature brings out the best of human nature, as we have seen during the 4th Brigade assistance to Victorian flood-affected communities,” Brigadier Marsh said.
“The 4th Brigade, as Victoria’s Reserve Brigade, is proud to have been able to help. We continue to remain poised to do so again whenever required.”
All Defence imagery from the Victorian floods can be found athttp://126.96.36.199/fotoweb/Grid.fwx?archiveId=5000&search=20111754