Nearly 200 farmers report damage in Wide Bay flood survey

The Leeson - Oliver bridge over the Gregory River, on the 9 January. Picture: MICHAEL EDMONDS

By Aaron Goodwin

AgForce has launched the Wide Bay/Somerset Flood Survey, allowing farmers to report the damage they suffered and support an application for federal disaster funding.

Close to 200 farmers have submitted details of the damage to their properties so far, which has helped accelerate the release of disaster funding.

AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said the aim of the flood survey is to ensure residents in small communities, have the same funding opportunity as those in larger communities.

”There’s been some people and communities affected badly by these floods,” Mr Guerin said.

”The aim of the survey is to ensure everybody has an equal footing, in putting forward what has happended to them and getting the government assistance they need in some cases.

”The survey has enabled us to collect a lot of data, which normally would be a number of months until a government agency go around and survey the disaster, after the water has receded.

”The Category D funding announced from the government, is off the back of the material we put together in this survey, which again normally wouldn’t be collected until months after the event.

”It has taken an enormous emotional burden off producers, who may or may not access that funding upfront, they now know it’s there.

”They can plan with confidence, they can sleep at night and the the devastation in the smaller communities is recognised evenly, alongside the bigger communities like Maryborough.”

AgForce has also launched a second flood survey focused on damaged roads, bridges and public infrastructure.

Launched on 18 January, the survey has a series of questions for residents to answer, which aim to assist the government in allocating funding.

”Like the flood survey, the more richness and data we get back from this survey, the more we’ll able to guide the Department of Transport and Main Roads, in prioritising fixing that infrastructure,” Mr Guerin siad.

”We know it’s another demand in people’s time but when that survey is launched, if people can take the time to fill it in, that would make an enormous difference.

”One of the biggest lessons from this first survey is the best knowledge is held from locals.

”They’ll know where roads have been washed out, where bridges have been washed, where they most urgently need repairs, so they can move livestock and fodder.”

Shane Stone, the Coordinator-General of the National Recovery and Resilience Agency inspected some of the damage done in the unprecedented flooding event in the Kilkivan-Goomeri region.

To date 154 properties were believed to be impacted in the various shires from Bundaberg to Gympie.

Mr Stone said it is clear that roads, transport and building infrastructure and livestock losses are key issues facing the region’s primary producers.

“Amid this traumatic event community resilience has been at the forefront leading the recovery,” Mr Stone said.

“Sadly recovery cannot be measured in weeks.

”It may have taken less than 48 hours to cause the damage, but to get back to where these communities were will take years.

”It would be dishonest to tell people otherwise.

“It is a long term process to recover to where you were in these situations.

“However we will get there.

”While every cracker that is spent must be accounted for before a Senate Estimate Committee, the Australian Government is providing the funding and support to get communities in and around Gympie and up to Maryborough back on their feet.”

Find more information on AgForce’s surveys on their website or Facebook page.