Page 723 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 28 March 2023

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River flooding. This flooding impacted communities from the Victoria and the South Australia border all the way down to the Murray River mouth at Goolwa in South Australia.

Volunteers supported local communities through the use of the high-capacity pumps, which can move an extraordinary amount of water—a total of 6,000 litres per minute. A huge thank you to all of the volunteers that take time out of their personal lives to help not only their own community but also communities across Australia. You are an outstanding reflection of the agency and the giving nature of Australians.

It is a timely reminder to all Canberrans that, although the period of heightened storm activity has ended, storms can happen all year round, and it is important to remain prepared and know what to do if you become affected by a storm by ensuring your gutters are clear, preparing an emergency plan and understanding the risks associated with your area.

In relation to aerial capability, the ACT, through the National Aerial Firefighting Centre, contracted one light helicopter with specialist intelligence-gathering capability and two medium helicopters to provide dedicated aerial firefighting services to the ACT for the 2022-23 bushfire season. The use of the SIG helicopter for the season provided a valuable asset in the early detection and confirmation of active fires. Community members may have seen these aerial assets in the skies during the grassfires that did occur.

In fact, the ACT RFS contracted aviation assets assisted ground crews on the Mount Ainslie, Gordon, and Smiths Road grass fires, including water bombing areas of fire that were difficult to access by road. This support proved to be vital in slowing the spread of the grassfires, allowing ground crews to safely arrive on the scene and extinguish the ignition.

In preparing for the 2022-23 high-risk weather season, the ESA engaged in extensive preparedness and readiness activity. Through the Be Emergency Ready campaign, the ESA worked tirelessly to increase community awareness around the preparation for a range of hazards. The campaign had a strong focus on educating the community on the national updates to the Australian Fire Danger Rating System and the Australian Warning System. The campaign saw several engagement opportunities, including Be Emergency Ready Day; personnel in attendance at Floriade; and the annual ACT Fire and Rescue Community Fire Unit pop-ups as part of CFU Saturday.

Through a number of platforms, including social media, radio and print media, the ESA continues to keep the community informed about all hazards. The ESA’s social media channels have seen over seven million impressions, with over 444,000 engagements since September 2022, and more than 36 alerts and warnings have been issued by the agency.

The government is acutely aware of the threat that natural hazards present to our city. Reflecting on just the past few years alone and the level of severity linked with extreme weather events—although figures are down from last hazard season—the ESA website still had over 1,600 visits, with 560 downloads of the survival plan.
So the community is becoming more conscious of the hazards that are present and have a clearer understanding of the preparations required to maintain their safety.

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