RFBAQ Skid Tour of the Central West
13th – 16th February
By Savannah Terrar
A/Brigade Training and Support Officer
Far Northern Region, Northern (Cairns) Area Office, Rural Fire Service
RFS Deployment Task Forces have been assisting with the Clean-up effort in Cooktown and Surrounds in the wake of the devastating floods caused by Tropical Cyclone Jasper. The Rural Fire Service (RFS) has stepped up to provide crucial assistance to the affected communities across the region. Alongside the State Emergency Service (SES) and Fire and Rescue crew, the RFS has deployed energetic and caring taskforces to support the clean-up efforts and provide much-needed aid to the residents grappling with the aftermath of the natural disaster.
With two completed deployments, of teams Alpha, Bravo, and with a third team, Charlie ready to hit the ground this week from the RFS, alongside their counterparts from the SES and Fire and Rescue, a unified and coordinated response to the challenges posed by the post-TC Jasper floods, is evident. These teams have worked tirelessly in the hot weather, demonstrating their unwavering commitment to helping the affected communities. The outpouring of support and assistance that has been extended to those affected by the floods reflects the true spirit of community and solidarity that is characteristic of Queenslanders and ethos of our volunteers.
The primary focus of the task forces has been on shovelling mud from homes and community structures and washing out properties that have been inundated by the floodwaters. This hands-on approach not only facilitates the physical clean-up but also serves as a visible demonstration of support and solidarity with the affected residents. Crews have been shocked by the enormity of the destruction and humbled by the welcoming from residents who have lost so much but want to give to those who arrived to help. The efforts of these teams have extended beyond the physical tasks, as they have also provided a listening ear to the locals, offering comfort and reassurance during this trying time. It has been remarked that the presence of RFS brings about a sense of calm and reassurance that is palpable. The convoy of yellow, red and white trucks signals that the cavalry has arrived to support the locals’ already enormous works being done. Acting BTSO Ryan Dury who led Taskforce Alpha said, “it’s like a war zone there, I don’t think the incoming crew will understand just how bad it is till they see it”.
Deploying crews are briefed at Mareeba Fire Station and have all been keen to ‘get on the road’ to help the local brigades and community members who had been working weeks and days on end from sunup till after sundown in sweltering conditions. Afternoon briefings of the crew have been conducted on the lawn of the accommodation overlooking the ocean, it seems almost surreal that the stunning views of the ocean are mere kilometres from such destruction.
The township of Cooktown itself has embraced the taskforces, taking immense pride in the accommodation and meals for them. Crews have been greeted with warm welcomes and lots of waves from the community as they convoy to their work locations each day. Local business worked tirelessly alongside RFS staff to book the accommodation and meals for the teams of 20-30. The owner of The Wharf Kitchen restaurant, Meg, who has been providing the catering states that “the teams are delightful and have made the staff very happy with lots of laughs and are generally great people with some great larrikins. They come in tired from a huge day but somehow still always have the energy make us laugh and smile,” said Meg.
Good food is essential for morale and to fuel the crews for the long days. Crew have been ecstatic with the meals with the only complaint being they now need bigger pants thanks to the delicious and huge meals.
RFS volunteers who leave their families, take time off work for deployments are a source of immense pride for all Queenslanders. Their unwavering commitment to making a positive difference, both near and far, serves as a testament to the strength and compassion that define the people of the region.
The dedication, teamwork, and compassionate service demonstrated by these teams have not only contributed to the physical restoration of the affected areas but have also uplifted the spirits of the residents. The tireless efforts of these volunteers and emergency responders stand as a testament to the unwavering commitment to helping others in need, and their impact will be felt for years to come as the communities continue along the path to recovery.
The RFBAQ will soon be mailing a nomination pack to the secretary of...