SES strike teams hit the ground
AN UNPRECEDENTED number of emergency services personnel will hit the ground in Townsville from today, in a mammoth clean-up effort expected to last weeks.
Hundreds of Queensland Fire and Emergency Services personnel including SES and Rural Fire Service volunteers have been organised into "Strike Teams" and will be deployed into streets across the city to hose down inundated homes.
The dispatch of Strike Teams will be co-ordinated from Reid Park, based on advice from the Townsville Local Disaster Management Group.
SES Area Controller for the Northern Region John Forde said each Strike Team would be made up of at least five vehicles and a minimum of 15 personnel.
"The guys will go through, do an assessment, move the furniture out, hose everything down and do the best they can," he said.
"It's a very big logistic operation, which is why most of the state is involved.
"It's reached a few benchmarks and broken a few records in terms of QFES and the SES response."
Crews have been setting up the Reid Park headquarters for days, ready to cater for an operation involving a rotation of at least 300 personnel and dozens of vehicles.
Rural Fire Service and SES volunteers have been flown in from as far as past Port Douglas to the north and Brisbane to the south.
A total of 138 personnel arrived in a 40-vehicle convoy from Rockhampton overnight.
At least 40 volunteers have come up for the SES from the Brisbane Region, and 140 from the Far North Region to bolster Townsville's 42 strong contingent.
RFS regional manager Tony Hazell said the size of the operation was just as unprecedented as the flood crisis.
"We've had some fairly large events like the Bundaberg floods and the Grantham floods, or cyclones and large fires … and the responses like these are just incredible and go for weeks and weeks," he said.
"We are also very conscious that being a Townsville event, that the brigades around Townsville will want to be front and centre in helping their community.
"The quicker we can get into recovery and help the community move on, it's much better for the community in that healing process, which is why we're doing what we're doing."
The major wash-up effort officially begins today and will run for at least two weeks and may go on for longer, but teams began smaller isolated efforts yesterday.
Strike Team Sector Alpha, made up of 16 QFES, SES and Rural Fire Service volunteers were the first team on the ground yesterday.
They blitzed through Kokoda St, Idalia, systematically doorknocking homes and where residents were homed ripped up carpet, linoleum flooring, got rid of furniture and pressure hosed down walls and floors.
SES Townsville operations capability officer Ian Neale said the Strike Teams were there to assist the devastated residents.
"With the Strike Team in there [residents] know that there is help available and that's what we're here to do," he said.