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Debbie damage bill tipped to pass billion dollar mark

The damage bill from Cyclone Debbie in Queensland is still being tallied but is expected to land somewhere in the vicinity of $1.5 billion.

Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt said the cost should end up being on par with Cyclone Oswald which hit in 2013.

Mr Pitt told the ABC that a $1.5 billion bill would leave Queensland with a net cost of about $500 million, taking into account  Commonwealth natural disaster relief payments.

Meantime Shadow Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Tim Mander said at a time when Queensland was battening down the hatches in preparation for Cyclone Debbie, the latest public service figures reveal that Queensland Fire and Emergency Services were cutting frontline staff.

He said the Public Service Commission figures were startling.

“The December quarter is the key time that should be spent building up to another potential Queensland summer of natural disasters, instead of cutting resources,” Mr Mander said.

“I’m sure the people in Central Queensland and the Gold Coast hinterland would be horrified to learn that at a time that they were gearing up to protect their homes and businesses, QFES had stripped back the frontline response team.

“How can they justify this reduction – this is the key time of the year that they should be in peak planning and preparation mode.

Mr Mander said that frontline services were in decline in so many areas and this was just another example.

“Queensland is a growing state that needs more teachers, nurses and key emergency services personnel,” Mr Mander said.

“You can’t build a better Queensland when you are stripping away key frontline services.

Gold Coast Airport

Gold Coast Airport hosts free community BBQ for flood-affected residents

THE Gold Coast Airport will on Thursday host a free community barbeque for flood-affected residents on the Tweed.

The BBQ will be held at Knox Park in Murwillumbah and will see Airport management present a cheque for $6,000 to the Tweed Shire Council’s Mayor Appeal Fund.

The family event, which is scheduled to kick off at 11am, will include live music, an Easter egg hunt for the kiddies, face painting, a jumping castle and kids’ craft stations.

More free trips to the tip for flood-affected residents on the Tweed

FLOOD-affected residents across the Tweed who still need to make a few trips to the tip in an effort clear their yards and homes of debris and water-damaged property can do so for free this long-weekend.

Council has extended its free tip service for the Resource Recovery Centre at Stotts Creek this Easter long weekend to assist in the ongoing clean-up operation.

Flood-affected residents wanting to take advantage of the free waiver are asked to provide their driver’s licence or proof of address.

Contractors have so far collected 4500 tonnes of debris from waterlogged homes and businesses. It’s estimated another 500 tonnes will be collected over the coming days.

Many residents have seen their debris collected and street washed down, with the majority of the remaining areas to be serviced ahead of Easter.

Residents wanting to dispose of waste collected from outside of flood-affected areas are being told to wait for Council’s bi-annual household kerbside collection which commences on Monday 24 April.

Contractors will return to flood affected areas after Easter for additional spot cleans as piles of debris reappear ahead of the household kerbside collection.

The Stotts Creek Resource Recovery Centre, located at Leddays Creek Road off the Tweed Valley Way, will be closed on Good Friday but will reopen from 9am on Easter Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

The tip will remain free for flood-affected residents only until Sunday 23 April.

Power Lines Electricity

Power fully restored to far north Qld, two weeks after Cyclone Debbie

POWER has been fully restored to 65,000 customers blacked out by Tropical Cyclone Debbie in far north Qld.

Close to 1000 Ergon Energy, Energex, Essential Energy crews, and contractors worked tirelessly for almost two weeks to reconnect the electricity to the cyclone-ravaged region.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the achievement was “remarkable”. “This is a remarkable achievement given the damage caused to Ergon’s network in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Debbie,” Ms. Palaszczuk said.

“Community support for Ergon’s restoration crews has been significant and I can’t thank North Queenslanders enough.”

Minister for Energy Mark Bailey said Ergon’s outstanding response has also been one of the most hi-tech responses to a disaster event in Australia’s history.

“Ergon has built on learnings from previous disaster events and used technology to gather an unprecedented level of data, geospatial visualisation and aerial surveillance mapping for damage assessment to improve its response,” he said.

“Ground-based damage assessment crews have been backed up by an army of technical support staff sitting at computers assisting with the entire end-to-end response from potential impacts, flood modelling, real-time damage assessments, restorations, data analytics and providing expert advice.”

“Real-time data and pictures of the network damage area have enabled Ergon’s crews to respond and restore power to communities faster.”

Minister Assisting the Premier on North Queensland Coralee O’Rourke said the damage caused by Cyclone Debbie was severe.

“The cyclone damaged 650 power poles and brought down 800 power lines,” she said.

“:It also caused extensive damage to the network from the Burdekin south to Sarina and west to Collinsville and Moranbah cutting power to 65,000 customers mostly in the Mackay and The Whitsundays areas which bore the brunt of Debbie’s damaging winds.

“I congratulate everyone involved in the restoration effort, it’s been an impressive feat.”

Ergon will undertake an extensive safety inspection of its network to check for residual damage to ensure public safety.

Flood-Road-Debbie

GCCC to invest in flood cams and sandbagging machines

The Gold Coast will invest in more CCTV flood-cams to sharpen the city’s response to flood emergencies.

A review of the recent floods across the city has found emergency and council services handled the situation well, however Mayor Tom Tate said it revealed areas which could be improved.

“I want to deploy more CCTV cameras especially near roads that normally go under,” he said.

While the city has detailed flood modelling in place, he said it would be invaluable to have live pictures of exactly what’s happening in flood-prone areas as floodwaters rise.

The council’s Getting Ready campaign will also be given a funding injection so it can be broadened, and preparations will be made easier for people trying to flood-proof homes and businesses.

“We’re going to have sand bagging machines,” the mayor said.

“You won’t have to wast time shovelling sand into bags, the machines will be operating, the bags will be full, and you’ll be able to just load them into your car and come back for a second load if you need more.”

Council rubbish tips will also be opened to everyone, including commercial operators, free of charge in the immediate wake of a flood, so damaged goods and waste can be disposed of more efficiently.