Australian Defence Forces Mobilized to Help As Flooding Worsens

Australian Defence Forces Mobilized to Help As Flooding Worsens
A man pushes away floating debris next to a flooded shed on the bank of over flowing Clarence River in Grafton, Australia, on March 1, 2022. (Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images)
Rebecca Zhu
3/1/2022
Updated:
3/2/2022

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that the flood-hit areas in Queensland and northern New South Wales (NSW) would receive further support from the defence force after flooding in the region continues to grow.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has 600 active personnel currently involved in rescue efforts, with people getting airlifted to safety from the roof of their homes. But most rescues are being done by flood boats.

“The weather situation, particularly in and around Lismore ... was very difficult,” Morrison told reporters on Tuesday. “It was not an easy thing to get those aerial assets in place to be affecting those rescues.”

“That will continue, and we are pre-positioning further ADF support all along the eastern coast of Australia,” Morrison said.

Any further requests for federal assistance from Queensland and NSW would be “immediately” provided, the prime minister said.

Morrison said the current weather event, dubbed a “rain bomb” by the Queensland premier, was causing flooding that long-time locals in flood-prone areas have never seen in their lifetime.

As of Wednesday morning, 11 lives have been lost to the floods, of which nine were in Queensland and two in Lismore.

“Despite the terrible impacts that these flooding events have demonstrated, what we have seen is extraordinary courage and response across all agencies,” Morrison said.

A man paddles his kayak next to a submerged bus on a flooded street in the town of Milton in suburban Brisbane, Australia, on Feb. 28, 2022. (Patrick Hamilton/AFP /AFP via Getty Images)
A man paddles his kayak next to a submerged bus on a flooded street in the town of Milton in suburban Brisbane, Australia, on Feb. 28, 2022. (Patrick Hamilton/AFP /AFP via Getty Images)
Residents stay next to a flooded street in Lawrence, in northern New South Wales, Australia, on March 1, 2022. (Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images)
Residents stay next to a flooded street in Lawrence, in northern New South Wales, Australia, on March 1, 2022. (Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images)

Over 80,000 disaster support claims have been made so far, and $3 million (US$2.16 million) in payments have already been directly given through Services Australia. The Disaster Recovery Payment provides $1,000 (US$721) for adults and $400 for children.

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) said on Tuesday that insurers received almost 31,000 claims related to the flood emergency in one day, representing a 107 percent increase on Monday.

“This is still a large-scale unfolding event across two states with significant increases in claim numbers, and we expect this to continue to climb as people are allowed to return to their homes and businesses,” ICA CEO Andrew Hall said.
This comes as the Australian Bureau of Meterology (BOM) issued a warning for Australia’s most iconic city, Sydney, to brace for flooding and severe winds with the weather system.

At the NSW budget estimate hearings on Tuesday, Labor MP Walt Secord questioned why the fleet of five helicopters from the National Parks and Wildlife Services had not been deployed to help.

However, State Emergency Services (SES) commissioner Carlene York said it was naïve to think that a person who can pilot a helicopter can do a rescue.

“It is a highly technical, well-trained skill to land on a roof,” York told reporters. “National Parks and Wildlife are not trained for the purposes of our rescues to go and rescue community members.”

“We would love it if we could have more helicopters, but I’m also not going to put the lives of helicopter operators at risk.”

York said authorities have spread every available well-trained personnel across the Northern Rivers and Mid North Coast to help get the community to safety.

The BOM issued major flood warnings for the Hawkesbury-Nepean Rivers and the SES announced that the Warragamba Dam had hit capacity at Wednesday noon.

It also issued warnings for heavy thunderstorms that may lead to flash flooding in Victoria. The entire east coast of Tasmania is being also warned of minor flooding, with floods already occurring at the South Esk River.

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