Council begs army to come back

A FLOOD-RAVAGED council is calling on the army to help the region get back on its feet as it battles to recover.

Somerset Regional Council suffered extensive damage to infrastructure, businesses and homes when flash flooding inundated the region in January.

Somerset Regional Council Mayor Graeme Lehmann said the rebuilding phase was bigger than the council could cope with.

“The damage here has been immense and is beyond the ability of the local rural community to respond,” Cr Lehmann said.

“We have been hit hard over nearly our whole 5400sq km area.”

Cr Lehmann said the council had estimated a damage bill of at least $50 million.

“I realise the difficulties faced in other areas, but I urge people to look at a map and look where the deadly Lockyer Creek ends up; look where the Brisbane River starts; look where the Wivenhoe Dam is,” he said.

“It’s not hard to work out that towns like Fernvale would have suffered terrible damage.”

Cr Lehmann said the community was grateful for the assistance given by the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

“Council was advised on February 18 that ADF units ... had to leave and council would need to lodge another request for assistance,” he said.

Cr Lehmann said the council made another request but was told help could only be offered on a contract basis and Somerset taxpayers would have to pick up the bill.

“I call on Federal Member for Blair Shayne Neumann ... if he has any sway with the ADF, to please help bring about the return of our armed forces to help put our community back together without placing further financial burden on the already struggling community,” he said.

Mr Neumann told The Queensland Times he had passed on Cr Lehmann’s request but the army would not return.

“It’s up to council now to move forward and do what councils are supposed to do and do the work,” he said.

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