ADF aircraft have landed in Fitzroy Crossing, the town at the centre of severe flooding in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.
With floodwaters receding, C-27J Spartans, MRH-90 Taipans and CH-47 Chinooks have delivered much-needed supplies and personnel to the town.
C-27J captain Flight Lieutenant Pete Wuttke, of 35 Squadron, said Defence had managed flying operations at Fitzroy Crossing airstrip in conjunction with the airfield operator.
“With the airstrip being underwater, there was a question around the subsoil of the runway pavement, given the size and weight of our aircraft,” Flight Lieutenant Wuttke said.
“However, with flights commencing we can better support of the emergency service agencies.”
ADF fixed and rotary wing aircraft are being used to transport critical food, medical supplies and emergency services personnel around the Kimberley region, where key roads have been cut due to flooding in the aftermath of Ex-Tropical Cyclone Ellie.
State Emergency Service (SES) worker Steve Cable, who has been assessing the level of damage to houses in the Fitzroy Crossing region, said the recommencement of ADF flights would “massively” speed up the flood recovery process.
“SES workers are going door-to-door to determine how quickly we can get people back into their homes,” Mr Cable said.
“But we also need to get back to Broome each day because there is a severe shortage of accommodation.”
Mr Cable and fellow SES workers were transported on one of the first C-27J flights out of Fitzroy Crossing.
“There are still no roads open out here so having the ability to utilise Defence air transport allows us to get our work done as well as get vital goods and services into the town and surrounding areas,” he said.