Operation Yasi Assist
5 February 2011
Operation Yasi Assist, the Australian Defence Force contribution to the whole-of-Government effort in response to the impact of Tropical Cyclone Yasi in far north and central Queensland, is underway with hundreds of soldiers already involved in the clean up effort.
The ADF response already involves more than 800 personnel undertaking a wide variety of tasks in consultation with Emergency Management Queensland and other disaster coordination authorities.
These tasks include debris removal and road clearance, air and road movement of critical stores and equipment, damage assessment on buildings, reconnaissance and patient transport.
ADF liaison teams are working with civilian emergency management authorities in Townsville, Cairns and Innisfail.
In Townsville, more than 100 soldiers are helping residents clear debris and reopen roads closed by fallen trees.
Lieutenant Tobias Pitt from Lavarack Barracks-based B Squadron, 3/4 Cavalry Regiment, and his men were tasked with clearing Hugh Street, a main thoroughfare through the suburb of Gulliver.
“There’s been a lot of debris along this main road and, as a result, it’s been shut off,” Lieutenant Pitt said.
“We’ve coordinated with local police to cordon off the road and begun to chainsaw the trees and subsequently take them to green-waste areas for drop off.”
He said his soldiers were using Mack trucks and Unimogs, as well as Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicles, and coordinating closely with local agencies.
“Ergon Energy has been involved in isolating the power supply so we can start work on the streets. There are power lines in the water, which are obviously a danger.”
Lieutenant Pitt said his soldiers were very happy to be involved. “It is a good feeling to be able to help out in a crisis,” he said.
A Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster carrying more than 27 tonnes of equipment and supplies departed RAAF Base Amberley yesterday morning, with a load including tents, mattresses, stretchers and beds, as well as rations and water.
The stores will be shipped were needed throughout cyclone-affected areas.
Also on this flight were 23 personnel from the Queensland Fire and Rescue Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team. The 23-strong USAR team joined a contingent of 36 colleagues already in north Queensland.
Queensland Fire and Rescue Superintendent Kevin Walsh said the ADF support was of vital significance to his team.
“We’ve had wonderful support from the Defence Force and the RAAF in lifting our gear,” Superintendent Walsh said.
“They did a similar job for us when we went to Indonesia for the earthquake a couple of years ago.
“We’ve got a really good relationship with the ADF and the RAAF at Amberley and it’s really good to meet the guys again and get the support we need.”
The ADF is continually reviewing the situation with Queensland and Federal Government agencies and scoping options for assistance as the situation evolves while, on the ground, ADF liaison officers are working closely with emergency-management coordination authorities.
Media note: Imagery of ADF support to the clean up in Townsville is available at
Vision of ADF support to the clean up in Townsville was fed to Parliament House earlier today.
Media contact: Defence Media Operations 02 6127 1999 or 0408 498 664