The Palaszczuk Government continues to lead recovery and reconstruction efforts one year on from a record-breaking monsoon trough flooding event that devastated the state and resulted in billions of dollars in damages.
Over a three-week period across January and February 2019, hundreds of thousands of Queenslanders from Torres Strait to the Queensland-South Australian border and west to Mt Isa were impacted by the unprecedented rainfall and flooding.
Thirty-nine of Queensland’s 77 local government areas were affected, with Townsville impacted the most.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was hard to believe a year had passed since record-breaking rainfall cut off communities across the north and north west.
“This event destroyed infrastructure, homes and businesses, devastated the livestock industry and brought the freight industry to a standstill,” the Premier said.
“Since then my government has been working closely with communities, councils and federal counterparts to help the state recover, and I want to thank everyone involved for the incredible effort so far.
“We look after each other in Queensland through thick and thin, and my government stands shoulder to shoulder with every community affected as we keep rebuilding.”
Twelve months on:
- More than $380 million in recovery and reconstruction works have been delivered through joint Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA), which includes reopening some 6420km of roads that were closed or had restricted access.
- Almost $34 million has been paid to more than 116,000 impacted people, and over 2800 grants totalling more than $115 million have been approved to help primary producers, small businesses and not-for-profit organisations get back on their feet.
- More than 1800 people have been helped with emergency housing assistance and advice, and 64,834 instances of psychological first aid have been provided.
Minister for State Development and Minister responsible for the Queensland Reconstruction Authority (QRA) Cameron Dick said the recovery effort focuses on helping individuals, businesses, industries and organisations get back on their feet.
“Community development officers have been deployed in the worst hit areas and beef industry advisors are helping our primary producers with their long-term recovery,” Mr Dick said.
“In Townsville we opened the Small Business Recovery Centre last February, and it’s still open as a one-stop-shop to help small businesses bounce back better and more resilient than before.
“The Department of Employment, Small Business and Training held its Back on Track Roadshow late last year, visiting 19 impacted towns and providing assistance to more than 165 small businesses.
“And while a lot or reconstruction and recovery work has already been delivered, there is still much more in the pipeline to come.”
The Queensland Government negotiated a record $242 million Category C and D extraordinary circumstances recovery package with the Commonwealth for impacted communities.
This includes a $100 million Betterment Fund, of which more than $43 million has been approved for 13 projects across five local government areas.
Mr Dick said this has enabled councils to rebuild infrastructure to a more resilient standard, saving time, money, and potentially lives in the long run.
“More than $2.5 million has been allocated to improve damaged water and sewerage infrastructure in impacted communities to make them more resilient to future disasters,” he said.
“The Category D package also includes a $10 million economic recovery package, a $5 million tourism package, and a $22 million beef industry package after almost 500,000 cattle perished in the flooding.
“Through the Department of Environment and Science, more than $30 million has been allocated to 77 projects across north and Far North Queensland to address damage to Queensland waterways.
“Additionally, $2.2 million has been allocated to 16 projects in the northern region to address damage to Queensland beaches.”
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark said more than $100 million has been paid to primary producers across disaster declared areas in the north and Far North.
In the past year over 2000 Special Disaster Assistance Recovery Grant applications have been processed through DRFA arrangements,” Mr Furner said.
“More than half of this $100 million has been paid to beef cattle producers, while fishing, sugar cane, horticulture, sheep, floriculture and nursery industries have also been supported.”
Mr Furner said 40 per cent of north-west Queensland’s grazing lands were badly affected by the record rainfall, and since then the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has significantly increased its presence across the north-west.
“We’ve opened of a new office in Richmond, put on two additional beef industry extension officers, and have appointed a flood recovery coordinator and five industry recovery officers working across the region,” Mr Furner said.
“As well as being heavily involved with the Australian Defence Force helping local councils with fodder drops and carcass disposal in the immediate aftermath of the floods, DAF staff have been working closely with local and federal governments, community and industry partners.”
Teachers and students impacted by flooding in the north and Far North were assisted through a government-supported critical disaster fund established to aid recovery and replace resources.
Minister for Education Grace Grace said families of more than 10,250 students claimed assistance to replace lost or damaged stationery, curriculum resources and uniforms.
“Over 6000 claims were submitted for payments of up to $150, with almost $1.5 million in total support provided,” Ms Grace said.
“Around 280 teachers and school staff from 35 state schools also claimed more than $217,000 in total to replace lost or damaged teaching essentials.”
The Premier said that even with such positive progress made, the road to recovery remains a long one for many communities.
“This has been a big 12 months for our recovery efforts, but we’ve still got a lot of hard work to put in. The job is not complete,” the Premier said.
“Queenslanders can be assured though my government will continue to support them as they recover and rebuild. Our help is a constant, even during our hardest days.”
Other key elements of recovery efforts from the past 12 months include:
- Department of Transport and Main Roads fast-tracking major emergency works on critical transport routes, including the re-opening of Flinders Highway after two weeks
- Almost 22 kilometres of Flinders Highway repaired by December 2019
- Mount Isa-Townsville rail line repaired by April 2019
- $1.7 million fast-tracked to Townsville Hockey Complex to restore playing fields ahead of the Queensland School Sport Tournament and the Queensland under-18s Men’s State Championships held there in June 2019
- Community Development Officers recruited to work within the Carpentaria, Cloncurry, Burke, Cook, Wujal Wujal, Douglas, Flinders, McKinlay, Richmond, Townsville and Winton local government areas
- Sixty of 61 schools closed across the north and Far North were reopened within two weeks.
- Forty of 41 impacted national parks and state forests have now been reopened
To assist with accessing builders and tradespeople, the North Queensland Flood Register was established, which at its peak had more than 1000 licensed tradespeople registered and currently has 760 tradespeople available.
For disaster recovery assistance and information please visit www.disaster.qld.gov.au.