Lockyer Valley mayor Steve Jones was forthright in telling the audience of councillors and experts what worked – and what didn’t.
Lockyer Valley mayor Steve Jones was forthright in telling the audience of councillors and experts what worked – and what didn’t.

Mayors discuss the devastation of ex-tropical cyclone Oswald

ON A day when much of Brisbane was trying to escape drizzling rain, six Queensland mayors brought the weather inside, recounting what it was like to lead a town through devastation.

Mayors from North Burnett, South Burnett, Lockyer Valley, Fraser Coast, Bundaberg, Southern Downs and Gympie took the stage together.

In January, ex-tropical cyclone Oswald delivered destructive winds, rains, flooding, tidal surges and even tornados.

The intense storm killed at least six people.

In Bundaberg alone, up to 7500 people were affected and 3000 homes flooded.

For some mayors, they had experience, having led their regions through the onslaught of floods and rains during the summer months of 2010 and 2011.

Lockyer Valley mayor Steve Jones was forthright in telling the audience of councillors and experts what worked - and what didn't.

Cr Jones was there two years earlier when an "inland tsunami" tore the region apart.

"(The flood of) 2011 was not something we ever expected could happen," he said.

"When 2013 came, we were much better prepared to deal with it than in 2011."

Cr Jones said one of his key lessons was not to trust those apparent experts there to help.

"I'm referring to departments both federal and state," he said.

"If it happened again, we would need someone permanently monitoring the people helping us.

"Some of the people who are the most professional are the most useless."

Each mayor praised their council teams, disaster planning and their communities for coming together to help each area survive.

Gympie Mayor Ron Dyne said he would now pay closer attention to how many hours some workers were on the job.

"I had a staff member who looked like death warmed up and I had to throw him out of the centre because, otherwise, we would all end up with what he had," he said.

The session was attended by Mackay Mayor Deirdre Comerford, Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson and Banana Shire mayor Ron Carige.

From January 25-28, ex-tropical cyclone Oswald dropped more than 1000mm of rain as it stalled west of Rockhampton.

The destruction was then visited on the Wide Bay and Burnett areas, dispatching five tornados in the region.

The low then moved towards south-east Queensland, smashing the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and Gold Coast and parts of northern New South Wales before heading out to sea.



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