Sappers from the 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment (2CER) put their skills to good use on Operation NSW Flood Assist, reparing a bridge near Wauchope damaged by the floods..
They were helped by engineers from the Republic of Fiji Military Forces who were in Australia for training when the floods hit.
Floodwaters and debris washed away the foundations of the vital bridge in the tight-knit farming community, leaving many residents stranded and having to rely on kayak or dinghies to get to their neighbours or into town for supplies.
Corporal Tod Standage said the damage to the bridge was devastating.
“The bridge was flooded, and there was a lot of sticks that blocked the water, causing it to go around and cut through the banks on either side,” Corporal Standage said.
“There were large volumes of water cutting through, bringing trees, rocks, power poles, fences – it basically brought everything with it.
“We used large rocks supplied by the council to fill the gap to the existing bridge so we could start getting vehicles across it again.”
The 2CER sappers, working alongside local contractors, removed felled trees and rocks before linking with the local council to start repairing the bridge.
Corporal Standage praised the contribution made by the engineers from the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, who flew out from training with the 7th Combat Brigade to support Operation NSW Flood Assist.
“The Fijian engineers are plant operators in the Fijian military, so we familiarised them with our Australian equipment, got them on the tools, and they’ve shown that they’re more than capable of doing what we require,” Corporal Standage said.
“Now they’re in our loaders helping us to load trucks, they’re in bulldozers recovering rocks and helping us to reconstruct the roads.
“They’re larrikins, they’re funny.
“We’ve had them with us for over a week now and, at the end of the day, we’re all people and we’re all here to do the same job.
“It’s an extremely friendly dynamic.”
Corporal Standage said the community appreciated the support of the ADF.
“The flood had a catastrophic effect on the community given the volume of water that’s run through the area – it was a one-in-100-year flood and it’s definitely rocked a few homes,” he said.
“Everyone is in high spirits.
“They love seeing the ADF out here and they love having us.
“Plenty of people come past to say thanks and give us a thumbs-up.”