Setting table for disaster resilience

Kempsey Shire Council

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Our valley has suffered a remarkable amount of hardship in recent times, so the need to prepare for severe weather remains front of mind.

Neither weather nor disasters happen in just one shire, so it makes sense that we work as a united community to prepare. This is exactly what our Mid North Coast Joint Organisation of Councils has done, with Port Macquarie-Hastings Council, Bellingen Shire Council and Kempsey Shire Council working together to deliver a variety of recovery and resilience projects to our regions.

On Friday last week I was fortunate to witness a demonstration of the latest of these. The Joint Organisation has received $225,635 from Resilience NSW to purchase a SimTable for use on the Mid North Coast.

This is an incredible asset for the community. I was able to watch the way that the SimTable uses sand to create a 3-dimensional model of the mountains and valleys within our region. From here it can accurately simulate the movements of natural disasters such as bushfires and floods, using weather elements like wind direction to show the paths and potential paths of destruction.

The table uses data on weather conditions and the ferocity of the fire to demonstrate how a change in wind direction can cause spot fires with ember attacks kilometres ahead of the firefront.

As amazing as the technology is, it was also confronting to see the SimTable in action. At the demonstration Ku-ring-gai Council simulated the movement and impact of the 2019 Gospers Mountain fire reaching the Ku-ring-gai area had it not been contained at Wiseman’s Ferry.

The SimTable won’t just live in some office. It is mobile and will taken to local communities as part of severe weather event planning and information sessions where you will be able to see the impact of potential severe weather events on properties and use this to better plan for such events.

It is expected that our SimTable will be operational in about 3 months and once in action we will promote these unmissable workshops.

Our Shire and community are remarkable in what we have recovered from and our legendary resilience, but I am glad we will soon have this state-of-the-art tool to further improve our capacity and capability to plan for emergencies.

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The SimTable in action showing the spread of a fire front through the hinterland of the Ku-rin-gai area.

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