The ADF response to Queensland Flood Assist, Joint Task Force 637 (JTF637), today enters a new phase, providing more specialist support to the post-flood reconstruction efforts.
JTF637 Commander Brigadier Paul McLachlan noted his appreciation for more than 1900 personnel from all three services who had provided support to this point in the operation, including approximately 1200 ADF personnel still involved in recovery efforts.
“The effort by our sailors, soldiers and airmen thus far has been tremendous,” Brigadier McLachlan said.
“Our men and women, working around flood-affected areas of Queensland, have worked hard to meet the goals set for them by emergency-management authorities.” Now that the initial response and recovery efforts are complete, the evolving mission focus will be on providing increased specialist support in areas such as Grantham and Murphy’s Creek in the Lockyer Valley.
“Since JTF637 personnel arrived in the Lockyer Valley in the days after the terrible flash floods, hundreds of soldiers have continued to search the area alongside police and the SES.
“An engineering task group of approximately 300 personnel, using a range of heavy plant equipment, will remain in the Lockyer Valley to assist with search tasks and to support local authorities with the continuing clean up.”
Brigadier McLachlan said other work continued around Queensland to help in recovery efforts.
“JTF637 Naval vessels and divers continue to survey the Brisbane River to locate and identify debris that has the potential to pose navigational hazards or other problems. “Teams of environmental-health specialists continue to support local governments in reducing risk in areas such as a surge in mosquito breeding and hazardous debris left after the flooding.
“Military psychological support teams are working with Queensland Health to enhance the level of care that can be offered to people who have suffered as a result of the disaster.” Brigadier McLachlan said personnel who continued to work as part of JTF637 remained focused on reaching the end of the operation.
“As we move towards completing our mission, local councils are taking carriage of the reconstruction tasks,” he said.
“This ensures the local community is involved and can benefit economically from the rebuilding effort.”
A large number of personnel are now returning to their units and our aircraft have returned to their bases, however, Defence Force personnel and equipment remain on standby to return to action at short notice if required.
The ADF remains committed to providing all necessary support to Operation Queensland Flood Assist as required by the emergency-management authorities.
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