MAYOR: Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson.
MAYOR: Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson. Marc Stapelberg

OPINION: Getting on the road to recovery

FROM adversity often comes strength and the recent flood has shown us that resilience comes in many forms.

Underpinning our response is often how prepared we were.

Do I have all my essential personal effects, or do I even know 'what' they are?

Do I stay, or do I go and when should I make that decision? Where do I go?

And who is in charge; who should I listen to?

In speaking with many residents since the flood, there is a lack of knowledge over the roles of police, emergency services, SES, Council and volunteers.

Each local government area has a Local Emergency Management Plan (EMP) which details who is in charge (called the Local Emergency Operations Controller - LEOCON) and who is the combat agency for the various types of emergencies; floods, storms, fire, earthquake, accidents, water supply, major infrastructure collapse and disease.

The LEOCON is the most senior police officer in the Local Government area, and in the case of floods in our region, the NSW State Emergency Service are the combat agency.

The LEOCON and SES are supported by other emergency service agencies and Council.

The evacuation notices come from the SES, who are informed by weather reports and information from the Bureau of Meteorology.

So, in a first couple of days of the recent flood, SES and the police were focused on looking after people, Council was checking its roads, bridges, pumps, and I was working on getting the Myocum resource and recovery centre free for drop-offs, skip bins and curbside collection happening and communicating updates as I received them.

It was all hands on deck. The community filled the gaps incredibly, but we need to review the gaps and fix what can be fixed.

Ultimately, what we will learn from the flood will help inform how we plan for future emergencies and how we adapt. Following the flood, our Emergency Management Plan will be reviewed to see how Council can better support the LEOCON, SES and the community.

We will be asking what worked well, what didn't and what do we need to change.

Unfortunately, there are rarely two emergencies that are alike and therefore, there will never be a 'perfect' Emergency Management Plan that can account for every situation.

And each emergency will have a different response due to the nature of the emergency, geographical size, available information, impact on local responders and the availability of utilities such as power and local infrastructure.

As a community, it's our resilience in being prepared and the ability to adapt, that brings strength.

On Thursday May 11 at 6pm in the Mullumbimby Civic Centre there will be community meeting on resilience and if you can attend and share your knowledge and ideas, that would be great.

Let's work together to find new solutions and take the opportunity thank the SES and the multitude of volunteers who helped us during and after the event.

And never forget that during, and after an emergency, we need to look after each other; please continue to check on your friends and neighbours - they could need your help even several weeks on. A strong and resilient community looks after each other.


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