Murwillumbah SES chief Chris Chrisostomos.
Murwillumbah SES chief Chris Chrisostomos. John Gass

Radio SES for Murwillumbah

TWEED residents will soon have local radio broadcasts giving detailed warnings about emergency conditions and road closures during a flood crisis.

Murwillumbah State Emergency Service controller Chris Chrisostomos has revealed local community station Big Country Radio FM 88 had agreed to set up broadcasting equipment in the SES Murwillumbah headquarters to give detailed local information during an emergency.

The “back-to-the-future” move, he said, would mirror a service once provided by a previous local-based radio service and could complement ABC radio information which tended to be more regional.

In particular it would allow the SES to broadcast information about flood heights and the expected impact on various Tweed Valley communities, providing home owners, farms and business people up-to-date advice on precautions to take.

“It gives us an extra ability to distribute information,” Mr Chrisostomos said.

“Being able to give people information on what's happening in the upper reaches in a defined way has got to be better for the community.”

On Friday Mr Chrisostomos told a breakfast meeting of the Murwillumbah Business Chamber, where business people were urged to prepare their own flood action plans, that up-to-date information on river heights could be found on the Bureau of Meteorology website.

But he said the local SES also had an “intelligence cell” of experts who were able to work out in detail what those measurements meant for Tweed communities.

At the meeting it was also revealed that local business people had been slack in preparing their own flood plans.

Last October Mr Chris Chrisostomos addressed a meeting of 88 Murwillumbah business people urging them each to prepare flood action plans.

Two to three people later called him for help in preparing their individual plans.

When flooding looked imminent in early January his phone and that of Murwillumbah business chamber president Toni Zuschke began ringing hot.

“When the rains came, I had eight or 10 people ring me wanting to know what the flood plan is,” Mrs Zuschke told Friday's business breakfast meeting.

“I told them the flood plan is you have to have your own plan.”

Mr Chrisostomos was back in front of Friday's monthly business chamber breakfast issuing SES guidelines on how businesses should prepare their own flood action plans.

“It's not a matter of if a flood is going to happen,” he said. “It's a matter of when.”

Mr Chrisostomos repeated earlier warnings that 178 businesses in Murwillumbah would be inundated once the town's flood levee is breached, and parts of Wollumbin Street for instance would be under four metres of water.

“When the floods come we (the SES) don't have the manpower to be of assistance to the Murwillumbah CBD and the business community,” he warned, adding that rescue workers would be flat out evacuating residents of affected areas.

“It comes down to the planning, and it comes down to you,” he said.

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