2 January 2024

After more than a week of battering storms, South East Queensland starts long road to recovery

| Andrew McLaughlin
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BOM radar

A radar image of storms over South East Queensland on the morning of 2 January. Image: BOM.

Following a week of constant rain and thunderstorms in South East Queensland, the state government has appointed a Deputy State Recovery Coordinator to work with the Queensland Reconstruction Authority (QRA) on the clean-up and recovery.

Heavy rain and thunderstorms have been an almost constant ritual across the region from the NSW border to as far north as Emerald and inland to the Darling Downs since Christmas night, and at time of writing on Tuesday (2 January), more are forecast.

As a result, there has been localised flooding, damage to property and infrastructure, and ongoing power outages across the region. Hundreds of millimetres of rain have been recorded in gauges on the Sunshine and Gold Coast and their hinterland regions.

On 31 December, Queensland Police Service (QPS) Assistant Commissioner Ben Marcus was appointed Deputy State Recovery Coordinator to support Queensland State Recovery Coordinator Major General (Rtd) Jake Ellwood in the recovery response.

In his role, he will assist in coordinating disaster recovery operations, provide strategic advice to government agencies, and oversee and provide regular updates about recovery operations.

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Queensland Premier Steven Miles said Assistant Commissioner Marcus has extensive experience in disaster recovery in Queensland, having played pivotal roles in the response and recovery for both the 2011 and 2021-22 Queensland Floods and in a previous role as the Executive Officer to the Queensland Disaster Management Committee.

“While many Queenslanders in the South East are still feeling the impact of the severe storms, we’re getting on with the job of the recovery operation ahead,” he said.

“Recovery is going to be an enormous task. I am pleased we have the right experience and leadership at the QRA to get the job done.”

Minister responsible for Queensland Reconstruction Authority Nikki Boyd added, “Our top priority is the safety and welfare of affected communities”.

“The appointment of Assistant Commissioner Marcus as Deputy State Recovery Coordinator in response to the SEQ storms is important for community recovery,” she said.

The state and federal governments have arranged for assistance to be available through Commonwealth Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA) at www.disasterassist.gov.au.

Federal Minister for Emergency Management Murray Watt said, “We continue to support the recovery efforts by the State Government and local councils. These payments will help those experiencing hardship due to the storms, as well as supporting clean up and repair efforts for entire communities.”

Recovery meeting

Queensland Premier Steven Miles (right) meets with energy suppliers and state emergency services officials on 31 December. Photo: Facebook.

In addition, the Personal Hardship Assistance Scheme and Essential Services Reconnection Scheme have been activated for eligible residents in the City of Gold Coast, Logan City Council, and Scenic Rim Regional Council, while Counter Disaster Operations and Reconstruction of Essential Public Assets have been activated for eligible residents in City of Gold Coast, Logan City Council, Scenic Rim Regional Council.

Further information is available at Disaster support and recovery, or by calling 1800 173 349.

There has been some criticism of the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) for failing to predict the severity of the storms and for a lack of information to local councils. In an interview with the ABC on 30 December, Mr Watt said he would ask the National Emergency Management Agency to bring the BOM together with state governments and councils to see where there might be some gaps in the system.

“It might be that the Bureau needs to provide slightly clearer information than they are at the moment,” he said. “It might be the councils need a bit more training about how to recognise the signals and translate that information from the Bureau to text messages.

“Wherever the gaps are in the system, I’m keen to resolve them because, of course, we want to ensure that people are receiving the most accurate, reliable information they can.”

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