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La Niña-driven wet summer for outback Queensland sees RFDS, SES preparing for worst

By Craig Fitzsimmons, Ellie Grounds and Dan Prosser, Wednesday October 21, 2020 - 08:56 EDT
ABC licensed image
Storm clouds roll over Morvada Station, 70km west of Hughenden. - ABC licensed

The Royal Flying Doctor Service is encouraging outback residents to be ready for anything as forecasters predict a .



RFDS Queensland chief operating officer Andrew Barron said crews were well prepared, having previously experienced extremely wet conditions.

"From an aviation point of view, it means planes have to carry more fuel," he said.

"They need to have an alternate to go to in case they can't land.

"There is certainly more planning involved around the wet season."

Carrying more fuel means less room for cargo and crew, which in rare cases could lead to doctors and nurses being left on remote stations while patients are evacuated.

"We obviously need to ensure we have enough people on board to care for the patients," Mr Barron said.

"But if there was a mass casualty then that would be an option."



Be prepared

With the 2011 floods and last year's still fresh in people's minds, Mr Barron had a simple message.

"People just need to be prepared," he said.

"If it's a repeat of 2011 were certainly going to be in for it.

"If they are calling, just give us a [situation report] of their airstrip if they are on a property and think about other options.

"If weather is going to be a problem, think early about what other options they have moving themselves, or get care in."

Mr Barron is urging outback residents to visit a clinic as soon as possible if they need care.



Local councils on front foot

The Barcaldine Region is located in the geographical centre of Queensland.

Council collections of oversized household items from Boulia to Barcaldine have been brought forward.



Local grazier and Mayor of Barcaldine Regional Council Sean Dillion is encouraging residents to prepare their property for a big wet season.

He said while a flood could be tricky, it would be a good problem to have.

"As a producer I would rather see a flood than a drought," he said.

"Notwithstanding of course the horrible flooding we saw in north and north-west Queensland in 2019 which was a truly horrific event, equal in scale to drought,

"If we see widespread heavy rain, yes, we'll have some infrastructure damage, yes, we'll have a lot of fences to put up, but our cattle will be worth more, most likely, subsequent to that event."



Blowing in the wind

Boulia Shire Mayor Rick Britton was excited about the predictions comparing the coming summer to those of 1973/1974 and 2000, which were the wettest years on record.

He said the Boulia SES was preparing machinery and rescue equipment in anticipation of destructive storms.



"I've noticed in the past five or six weeks here we've had pretty prominently north, north-west winds," Cr Britton said.

"To me, that's a sign that there is something in the wind.

"Hopefully, yeah, just sit and wait and get a wet."


- ABC

© ABC 2020

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