Orange army into battle

MASS CLEAN-UP: SES volunteers work together to sweep pooling water from a flooding home on Joyce St, East Ipswich.
MASS CLEAN-UP: SES volunteers work together to sweep pooling water from a flooding home on Joyce St, East Ipswich. Claudia Baxter

AS THEY did in January 2011, the State Emergency Service swung into action over the long weekend to help flood-affected folk.

At Ipswich SES headquarters on Thorn St, area controller Arie van den Ende directed the orange army. Similarly, elsewhere in the district, SES volunteers worked hard day and night.

Mr van den Ende noticed a big change from the 2011 floods when many people refused help until it was too late.

"There was a lot of self-evacuation, especially in places like Enid and Bertha Sts in Goodna," he said.

"The reaction from people was much more positive. They were more in belief and that made our jobs easier. But we're only a small army so people have to realise we can't get to every job."

Luckily, the orange army was able to call in reinforcements, including the regular Army.

Premier Campbell Newman visited the Ipswich SES headquarters yesterday morning and he took time out to help fill some sandbags.

LNP Member for Ipswich Ian Berry stayed on during the afternoon to help load sandbags into people's vehicles.

Cars and four-wheel drives formed a continuous procession in and out of the depot, leaving with stacks of sandbags.

The mechanical set-up that can fill four bags in 13 seconds used up 50 tonnes of sand since Friday.

"We've had a humongous run on sandbags; we're up to 9000," Mr van den Ende said half-way through yesterday afternoon.

"We've got two sandbag machines out there and we've got the Army involved filling them.

"We had a LDMG (Local Disaster Management Group) meeting this morning and I said our biggest problem was manpower so the bloke in charge at the base said: 'How many do you need?' We asked for 12 and that freed up the orange people for other work."

That included about 350 call-outs including three fallen trees and numerous leaking roofs due to the rain blowing almost horizontal.

Not everything went well, with a flood boat sinking on Videroni St, Bundamba about 2.30am yesterday.

The motor stopped after it hit a submerged object and the boat filled with water.

Topics:  ex-tropical cyclone oswald ses state emergency service volunteers

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