BE PREPARED: The Tweed Richmond SES are urging residents to contact them about preparing the next severe weather event.
BE PREPARED: The Tweed Richmond SES are urging residents to contact them about preparing the next severe weather event. Marc Stapelberg

Post-flood complacency could lead to disaster

THE SES has expressed concern people's complacency following the 2017 floods caused by ex-cyclone Debbie could lead to disaster.

New South Wales State Emergency Service, Richmond Tweed Region's community engagement coordinators Janet Pettit and Paul van Bratt said the facts are three devastating floods have hit the region in the past 64 years mean residents must be prepared for the next which could happen at any time.

"There will be another severe weather event and we must be ready, because the one in 100 years flood has already happened in 1954, 1974 and 2017," Mr Van Bratt said.

"There's no question we will have another severe weather event."

Southern Cross University Centre for Flood Research's establishment director Professor Caroline Sullivan, said people need to be more proactive when it come to disaster preparation.

"In the likelihood of flooding occurring it is obviously sensible for people to be more proactive in the way they anticipate floods happening," she said

It is important for people to recognise while councils and other organisations make provision to protect people and infrastructure from flooding, these are based on predictions."

Prof Sullivan said the Lismore levee was built to protect the town form the anticipated once in 10 years occurrence.

"As this is a big and imposing structure, it's possible people have become more complacent," she said..

Ms Pettit said it's vital people think ahead as the sheer numbers needing assistance means the SES cannot be everywhere at once.

"We can't get to everyone, people need to plan to help themselves and their community," she said..

While the NSW SES received in excess of 3,400 requests for assistance and over 1500 emergency service personnel were deployed to the region during the event, it seems residents on the Northern Rivers have already forgotten the horror of the devastation and prefer to not take responsibility for their own safety.

The 2017 flood saw the SES receive over 10,000 phone calls, while 20,812 people evacuated and 14,395 people were isolated.

The SES performed 496 recorded flood rescues, 486 within the Richmond Tweed Region, 211 flood rescues were performed by the Lismore City SES Unit and 190 by the Murwillumbah Unit and one person was rescued every nine minutes average.

But they would prefer to have people plan ahead.

"If anyone is interested we will come and work with them to produce a personal home plan, a business action plan or even better , a community action plan," Mr Van Bratt said.

Ms Pettit said while the SES does its best, they simply cannot be everywhere at once.

The pair said residents who live out of the flood zone need to think about how they can be of assistance to friends and the community during a severe weather event.

And those who live in an area not impacted need to think about what they can do to help their community.

Mr Van Bratt said it would be great if people consider those in their community they can help when the weather gets tough.

"By helping an elderly neighbour, the family next door, or a business to lift and shift, we will help them plan for this occurrence," he said.

More information, contact SES Paul van Bratt 0458 737 219 or Janet Pettit 02 6625 7714.