THE men and women of the Australian Defence Force have been credited with saving countless lives at the height of the Townsville flood, and now they are taking their expertise out west.
More than 30,000 litres of aviation fuel and 5.5 tonnes of fodder has been delivered to flood stricken residents in north west Queensland as the military fight to help graziers save surviving livestock.
The humble heroes of Townsville’s 3rd Brigade and RAAF Base Townsville worked along side emergency services personnel to rescue 450 residents from the Idalia and Fairfield Waters areas as floodwater rapidly rose at the height of the flood overnight last Sunday.
As the monsoon moved to the north-west, creating an inland sea that has isolated farmers and killed hundreds of thousands of cattle, the military mission expanded.
Commander Joint Task Force 646 Brigadier Stephen Jobson is leading a taskforce of about 150 personnel from the army, navy and air force to support residents in the disaster stricken north west.
“JTF 646 is a component of a whole of government response focused on the provision of fodder and aviation fuel in support of the mayors of Cloncurry, Mckinlay and Richmond local government areas in their coordination of their response to the graziers affected by the floods,” Brig Jobson said.
“This has been a devastating flood event and the ADF stands side by side with families or north west Queensland at this very difficult time.
“We're very proud of our long history of supporting Australians and we're dedicated to doing our utmost to support our fellow Australians of north west Queensland in their time of need.”
Brig Jobson said RAAF fixed wing aircraft including C27-J Spartans and C17s had been deployed to the area alongside army rotary wing helicopters including Chinooks and MRH-90 Taipans.
As of Monday afternoon, they had delivered 30,000 litres of aviation fuel, which was running critically low, and delivered 5.5 tonnes of fodder to cattle stuck amid flood water.
In Townsville, the rescue mission has moved to recovery mode and the military has boots on the ground.
3rd Brigade head of operations Major Richard Trembath, who is coordinating the response said soldiers from 1RAR, 3RAR and the 4th Field Regiment had helped with sandbagging and doorknocking residents last Sunday before the height of the flood.
“Over the night we moved at least 450 people from Idalia and Oonoonba along, with was excellent work from 2RAR getting those people out of the flood, which was one thing, but getting them to a safe location with shelter and food,” Maj Trembath said.
“Certainly we know there are some acts of heroism out there.
“The support we provided certainly did save people and it was hairy, we were really concerned that things could have gone a lot worse.
“Due to our relationship with the QPS, proving direction as to where people were still needing support we were able to come together and do something pretty remarkable.
“It was highly dangerous and there was significant risk involved, and we worked all night to do the job that needed to be done.
“We live to serve, that’s part of our job description.”
Maj Trembath said the gym at Lavarack Barracks served as an emergency evacuation centre with 433 people sheltering over night.
As the recovery phase continues, personnel are helping to clear ruined possessions from the streets.
Maj Trembath said soldiers would continue to work to rebuild the community alongside Townsville City Council.