IPSWICH Council, led by Mayor Paul Pisasale, a vocal opponent of insurers that have failed to pay hundreds of flood victims, has been slammed for not doing enough to protect Ipswich area residents before and during January's devastating floods.
In a submission to the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry, ALP Member for Bundamba Jo-Ann Miller says her constituents complained that the Council dropped the ball by not warning residents early enough to save their belongings and signing off on residential developments in areas that flooded.
Ms Miller told the flood inquiry that her constituents complained of not being able to get timely information on the ICC’s website during the crisis and also weren’t happy with council advice given by phone.
“As a result, they did not have adequate time to shift furniture, photographs, clothes and other valuable items to higher ground. Some residents were forced to scramble over the pedestrian bridge across the Ipswich Motorway and Goodna State School in a desperate attempt to save themselves,’’ her submission said.
The submission stated that residents also questioned the development of several flooded areas, wanting to know if council was careful enough in evaluating their risk.
Cr Pisasale - who is also a long-time ALP mayor - said he felt Ms Miller was trying to use the floods to try to make political mileage and said that was disgraceful.
He said everyone could have done things better.
Lockyer Valley residents, in submissions forwarded by Member for Lockyer Ian Rickuss, urged the Inquiry to implement an early warning system for their area and build levees higher than roads and clean waterways and drains.
Julia Crust told Mr Rickuss an early warning system using phone text messages “definitely” was needed to “protect our safety and lives.’’
Ralph Bennett said such a system would work to some extent, but people were still very reluctant to leave their homes. He urged a clean out of waterways, especially near bridges where water backed up.
Kym Flehr said residents were never advised by the government about potential flood levels in the area and that information would be valuable if it was available.
She urged greater authority and resources for rural fire units who were heavily involved during the floods.
“By their nature, they are already ‘on the ground’ and at small expense could be trained in flood warning and evacuation procedures. The failure to fund these organisations adequately is a blight on government,’’ her submission said.
About 250 submissions have been filed with the Inquiry, but several hundred more have yet to be vetted and posted on the inquiry website.
It also emerged today that a Queensland council plans to reinstall old school radio communications in its cars, to use as a backup when mobile-phone towers are off-line during natural disasters.
In a statement to the flood inquiry, Toowoomba Regional Council CEO Ken Gouldthorp said that although mobile phones worked well during the January floods, VHF radios would be rolled out again for work vehicles.
"It wasn't a problem in this event, but should it be in the future we want to have extra redundancy built into the system," Mr Gouldthorp said.
"One advantage of the radio system is that multiple people can be listening simultaneously to what is occurring."
Mr Gouldthorp said internet access became problematic because Brisbane was also flooding.
"The lack of internet facilities meant that we were relying on fax," he said.
"Physical manuals had to be used as the information that was available on the internet was unable to be accessed."
The commission will be sitting in Toowoomba on Monday.