Week in life of Council during flood

Kempsey Shire Council

Pump work in Stuarts Point

Last week’s severe weather and flooding saw Kempsey Shire Council spring into action as an organisation with staff working around the clock to ensure the Shire’s community and infrastructure were as safe and protected as possible.

Council’s flood response team is made up of more than a hundred dedicated staff across the organisation who provide everything from hands on assistance to crisis management before, during and after the event.

Kempsey Shire Council General Manager, Craig Milburn, praised Council staff for their commitment and determination to push through the challenges and everchanging situations at hand during last week’s flood.

“Our staff just step up, one and all, when there’s a crisis like this flood,” said Mr Milburn.

“Across the Shire, staff were going above and beyond. From Customer Service to Waste teams everyone’s working hard. We even had one team member driving back and forth all day between Bellbrook and Turners Flat to take manual readings in terrible weather when the river gauges in these locations were damaged,” said Mr Milburn.

“Stuarts Point was a real concern, as there was a risk that groundwater levels could reach levels similar to last year, which is something we really want to avoid. Our water and sewer team were on site installing four diesel fuel pumps with 1.2 kilometres of flat piping in teeming rainfall in less than a day. And Council has had someone on site overseeing the pumps 24 hours a day ever since to get groundwater into stormwater drains. Without doubt this saved several houses from flooding.”

The event also dispels the myth of Council workers as clock watchers with staff in action 24 hours a day.

“Many Council staff worked through the night, monitoring river heights and flood relief gates to ensure decisions and actions were taken at the right time,” said Mr Milburn.

“Another example, on Friday we had teams at the flood-relief gates closing them manually at 3am. They sprang into action at Kinchela Creek and Belmore River, because they knew that it is vital to close them as soon as possible.”

Publishing current and accurate information 24 hours a day was another Council priority so that residents are informed and can take actions themselves.

“Incredible amounts of information are coming in from multiple agencies. That’s all processed at the Emergency Operations Centre before our Communications team issues updates through multiple channels,” said Mr Milburn.

As with many natural disasters, the work does not end when the flood is over. Council will continue to work to provide residents with flood waste disposal services, clean up help and recovery programs this week and beyond so we can all bounce back and prepare for future events.

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