ADF provides flood assistance in North Queensland

The ADF is providing support to the Queensland Police Service via the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in response to floods affecting North Queensland communities following Ex-Tropical Cyclone Jasper.

From December 17, personnel from HMAS Cairns and 51st Battalion, Far North Queensland Regiment, have been providing assistance to Cairns residents affected by flooding, in support of emergency services.

Cairns Mayor Terry James, described the effort of the ADF personal as crucial to response efforts following ex-Tropical Cyclone Jasper both within the Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG) and on the ground in the community.

“The precision and planning acumen bought by the ADF has been nothing short of remarkable, their ability to coordinate and plan is world class,” Mayor James said.

“I have been able to reach out to the Commander and his team who have provided solutions to the complex problems we are facing.”

Members from 51st Battalion, Far North Queensland Regiment, HMAS Cairns and Army’s 5th Aviation Regiment responded as soon as possible and have been assisting with immediate emergency evacuation efforts across the region to help keep the community safe.

Following requests from emergency services via NEMA, Defence deployed two Army CH-47F Chinooks and two AW-139 helicopters from Townsville to Cairns.

The helicopters assisted transporting about 150 emergency service personnel and equipment to Cairns, and evacuated isolated residents.

Corporal Charlotte Mears, flight crew on the AW-139 dedicated to the emergency response provided by the ADF, has reflected on the effort.

“The community has been great to work alongside and are grateful for our help and very patient given the circumstance they are facing. The flood can be a scary time for everyone,” Corporal Mears said.

“When they knew Defence was coming, it seemed to help calm them and we could see the relief on their faces when we arrived.

“There are people who have lived in this community for a very long time and say they have never seen anything like this.”

The Commanding Officer of Cairns, Commander Alfonso Santos, said Defence helicopters evacuated about 290 civilians from Wujal Wujal in North Queensland from December 19 to 21.

“Defence will remain responsive to changing requirements and continue to adjust to meet the needs of affected communities as identified by the Queensland Government and the Local Disaster Management Group – Cairns Region,” Commander Santos said.

ADF personnel have moved more than 10 tonnes of stores, including food and medical supplies into remote communities by Army helicopters. They also transported Red Cross personnel.

The Commander of Joint Task Group 629.3, Brigadier Richard Peace, said he was proud of the efforts of his group in supporting the North Queensland communities.

“Our soldiers are mucking in by supporting local and state emergency services personnel, and together, under very challenging environmental circumstances, doing whatever they can to support the people of Cairns and surrounding communities,” Brigadier Peace said.

Defence is continuing to provide support to isolated communities through the evacuation of people and transportation of supplies.


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