Residents urged not to be complacent
Published on 29 November 2018
Chair of the Rockhampton Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG) Cr Tony Williams has acknowledged the enormous effort of QFES, Council staff and volunteers who controlled yesterday’s fires and thanked them for their incredible work.
During an LDMG meeting at 9am this morning, Cr Williams said conditions are still dangerous and residents are urged to not be complacent.
“Yesterday the QFES were battling unprecedented fire conditions, with firefighters who have been in the service for decades saying they have never seen anything like it,” Cr Williams said.
“The firestorm was generating its own weather which made it travel in two opposite directions. This made it very hard to track, and I want to commend the QFES personnel for working against some horrific conditions to control a firestorm that was unlike anything we have experienced before.”
Cr Williams also highlighted what a dramatic difference aerial water bombing made.
“Two 737s deployed from NSW were dropping 20,000 litres of water at a time over the fires and actually managed to reshape them. This is what saved the entire township of Gracemere from a direct fire attack.
“Without this assistance, we would have woken to a very different scenario not only for Gracemere but also for South Rockhampton. I cannot emphasise just how thankful we are for this vital help and the improved wind conditions overnight.
“I am pleased to report that Gracemere, Kabra and Stanwell residents have been able to return safely to their homes as of 5.30 this morning. Thank you to all of these residents for heeding the advice of authorities in such a safe and timely manner,” Cr Williams said.
While firefighters were trying to defeat the blaze, hundreds of people sought refuge in Rockhampton.
“Our staff and volunteers at the Showgrounds did an amazing job looking after those who had nowhere else to go, and we were all really touched by the local businesses who donated their time and services. We had things like Dominos Gracemere turning up with pizzas, Big W giving toys and games to the kids, the RSPCA and Capricorn Animal Aid looking after and feeding pets, and The Rock Building Society sending food.
“We also know that people across the region took in friends and relatives at short notice to look after them, and it has been a pleasure to see our community pull together in such a supportive way.”
However, Councillor Williams emphasised that while he was cautiously optimistic, the Region couldn’t afford to get complacent.
“While these conditions have improved today, and residents have been able to return home, we are still not out of the woods and weather conditions are still favourable for fires.
“Please keep checking Council and QFES’ Facebook page for updates, contact the LDCC on 1300 652 959 or send a Facebook message to Council for any non-urgent queries, and call 000 if there is an immediate threat to life or property.”
The Rockhampton Showgrounds housed 111 people last night, while 157 people stayed at the University. These evacuation shelters have now closed and the Bruce and Capricorn Highways have re-opened.
Smoke will still be visible around the Rockhampton Region today and residents are urged to remain vigilant and take precautions during the dangerous fire and heat conditions that will prevail over coming days.
Residents are reminded that greenwaste disposal is free at the Rockhampton Regional Council Landfill.
Waste and Recycling collections scheduled for Gracemere residents today will now be collected tomorrow, Friday 30 November.
Schools are expected to return tomorrow, however please follow the Department of Education website for up to date details https://closures.det.qld.gov.au/emergency/schools.html