Lieutenant Kurt O’Neill understands the power of water.
His home town is Warrnambool on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, and he has been working in flood zones on the Mid North Coast of NSW.
Lieutenant O’Neill is from the 6th Battalion, the Royal Australia Regiment, but has been working with the 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment (2CER) supporting Operation NSW Flood Assist in Port Macquarie, leading his platoon in the clean-up operations.
“It’s a rewarding experience being able to help people who have gone through something like this where they’ve lost a lot of personal items,” Lieutenant O’Neill said.
“We’ve been assisting with waste collection working with council contractors as well as helping people who can’t really help themselves get their damaged property out of their homes so they can start to recover.”
Lieutenant O’Neill and his platoon are working under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Henry Stimson.
“The work of our soldiers, sailors and aviators is enormously important in helping these communities start the process of rebuilding their lives,” Lieutenant Colonel Stimson said.
“The leadership of people like Lieutenant O’Neill means that we can make a big difference, and the feedback we have been receiving from local residents has been only positive – a true reflection of the professionalism and capability of our people.”
The personnel from 2CER have removed more than 30 tonnes of waste, removed sandbags, cleared several farms of rubbish, repaired piers and jetties, and opened up roads for remote communities – some of whom were isolated for more than a week.
In the township of Laurieton, south of Port Macquarie, the clean-up continues.
“The guys have been working really hard – flat out – to help the locals here,” Lieutenant O’Neill said.
“It’s good to see them get stuck in. They’re good soldiers.”