ADF liaison officer Major Tony Smith examines maps in the city council’s operations room.
ADF liaison officer Major Tony Smith examines maps in the city council’s operations room. Sarah Harvey

Inside the war room

MAPS of Ipswich line the main table, taking up any free space not covered by computers and phones.

People wearing different uniforms – camouflaged army fatigues, the blue shirts of police and firefighters among others – move in and out of the room.

It hums with the noise of voices on near-incessant phone calls and the sound of fingers bashing away at keyboards.

This is the Ipswich City Council's official recovery room – the war room where council workers, emergency services, defence force personnel and the SES co-ordinate the response and recovery of our city after the floods.

The room, located on the fourth floor of the council's Hayden Centre on South Street, has been in operation since Thursday last week.

While still a busy place, council's Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG) deputy chairman Trevor Nardi said it is not as frenetic as it was during the first days of operation.

Representatives from all the groups, including Emergency Management Queensland, meet twice a day to assess and update operations.

The recovery room is part of the LDMG's response to the disaster.

“The idea of having all these people in the one room is that it makes it easier to organise,” Cr Nardi said.

“We can see what's required and we know how much resources each group has because they have representatives there in the room.”

Clean-up operations in the city have been running since late last week, but Major Tony Smith, the Australian Defence Force's liaison officer at the recovery centre, said they will stick with the city for another week yet.

“We'll have somewhere here until at least next week,” Major Smith said on Thursday.

“If council doesn't need us after that, we'll stand back. But if they need us, we'll stay here.

“Without the council's support, our response wouldn't have been possible. It's been a pleasure to work with them.”

He said RAAF Base Amberley is one the defence force's major bases and the many air force and army units there feel like they are part of the town.

On the ground the defence force has army, navy and air force personnel operating plant equipment, running dump and haulage trucks, picking up rubbish, operating heavy lifters and doing traffic control.

Cr Nardi said he was happy with the response the LDMG was able to organise to the flood disaster.



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