More than 1200 Australian Defence Force personnel have been directly assisting Queensland Emergency Services in its response to areas affected by Tropical Cyclone Yasi.
In the aftermath of the cyclone, Emergency Management Queensland requested the ADF to assist with clearing road access to affected areas, delivery of emergency food and water, making public spaces safe, and assisting where practicable in the restoration of critical infrastructure.
Commander of the ADF’s Operation YASI ASSIST, Brigadier Stuart Smith, said that Australian Defence Force personnel had achieved the tasks set for them and successfully provided specialist support to the emergency services personnel who are now well underway in assisting the communities devastated by the category 5 cyclone.
“From the day after the cyclone hit, the sailors, soldiers and aircrew of the Task Force have worked tirelessly in applying their specialist skills to assist the emergency services and the people affected,” said Brigadier Smith.
“Emergency services and public utilities have other restoration tasks well in hand for those areas hardest hit by the cyclone.”
Brigadier Smith has been meeting regularly with local authorities and said that it was now clear that critical infrastructure such as public roads, water, sewerage treatment and telecommunications had been restored to the majority of areas affected by the cyclone.
“In addition to supporting the rebuilding of critical infrastructure and clearing over 250km of road, the ADF removed some 250 tonnes of debris from public areas and assisted in clearing the properties of elderly residents who were not able to do so themselves,” said Brigadier Smith.
“In direct support of emergency services and using trucks, ships and aircraft we have delivered over 300 tonnes of cargo, including 200 tonnes of emergency food and water supplies, two military 16KVA and five civilian 3.5KVA generators and other engineering plant and equipment to the affected region.
“Many of the troops who operated with the Task Force live and train in Northern Queensland and relished the opportunity to support the local community in their time of need — indeed many of the troops have not been home to check and clean their own homes affected by the cyclone.”
Given the improving situation and the capacity of the civilian authorities, the ADF will look to scale back operations over the coming days
The ADF is continually reviewing the situation with Queensland and Federal Government agencies and remains ready and able to assist, as required.
Ministerial Support and Public Affairs,
Department of Defence,
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