Lack of good flood information caused panic – inquiry told


The flood inquiry was today told a lack of information caused people to panic when floodwaters hit parts of south-east Queensland.

Today’s hearing in Brisbane marked almost four months since the River City was inundated by floodwaters.

Michelle Thomas reports.

TRANSCRIPT

When floodwaters swamped South East Queensland in January this year it was information people wanted.

But today’s inquiry was told that what information was given wasn’t always clear.

Acherfield business owner Michael Baker said if more accurate information had been provided he could have avoided a huge financial loss.

Michael Baker, General Manager, Mathand Pty Ltd: “There was an economic cost of around $350,000, delays, we have not yet finished the repair work inside the building.”

Despite making every preparation for the rising waters he says he didn’t anticipate his warehouse going under because his calculations had been based on what he says was inaccurate data on the Brisbane City Council’s floodmaps.

Michael Baker, General Manager, Mathand Pty Ltd: “If we had the right information on the levels at Oxley Creek then we would have made other decisions that would have lessoned the financial cost.”

North of Brisbane and locals say a lack of information also panicked people when floodwaters rapidly isolated the communities of Caboolture and Morayfield.

Craig Hewlett, President 101.5fm Caboolture: “When you put out an information bulletin to say evacuate to higher ground, if you’re in a low-lying area with no followup information I don’t know what else they expected to achieve.”

Although the dissemination of information in some areas posed a problem January’s floods saw the successful implementation of an alert system for extreme weather events delivered via SMS.

Kerry Plowright, Managing Director, Australian Early Warning Network: “Ninety-five percent of them when they receive a message from us send it on to somebody else.”

But the role of the early warning system is just one component of the flood response the Commission is examining, with many more submissions to be heard.

The inquiry represents an opportunity for everyday Queenslanders affected by the floods to voice their frustrations and suggestions for improvement.

Michelle Thomas, QUT News.