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Court hears about Central Queensland’s December/January evacuations

May 23rd, 2011 Australia

Flooded Emerald in Central Queensland

Flooded Emerald in Central Queensland
Source: The Australian

THE story of the extraordinary events of Central Queensland’s December/January floods including the historic evacuation of an entire township is unfolding in a Rockhampton court this morning.

The flood inquiry is hearing evidence from people across Central Queensland including local government officials, primary producers and police officers.

Their stories, wedged between the floods of the south east and the cyclone of the far north, have received relatively little attention.

Assisting counsel Peter Callaghan told the inquiry the town of Theodore was struck twice in one year with a flood in March 2010 followed by another in December.

On New Year’s Eve 2011 the Dawson River peaked causing an historic evacuation.

To the inquiry’s knowldge Theodore was the only township in the state’s history to be entirely evacuated, Mr Callaghan said.

In Rockhampton the flood may not have been the highest in the city’s history, Mr Callgahan said.

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“But its impact on the local comunuty and indeed on the whole state was profound.”

Mr Callaghan said it was right that evidence surrounding the event be ventilated in an area as close to the events as possible.

Rockhampton Police Inspector David Wiliam Peff has told the inquiry 21st century media played a positive role in the floods.

He said the Queensland Police Service “embraced” Facebook late last year and it served police well through the flood event.

Facebook appeared to be used more than traditional media outlets such as print, he said.

“What we were able to so is put our messages and kill rumours.”

Inspector Peff said police had secured a media adviser to handle main stream media and get out information quickly.

He said the strategy had worked extremely well.

He did not meet every media request, but did his best to get the message of the flood out to as large an audience as possible, he said.

“Personally I found working with the media far better than working against the media.”

The inquiry continues.