Inside Townsville’s flood recovery efforts

As people in North Queensland continue to deal with the impacts of severe flooding across the state, one council at the centre of the floods explains how it’s coordinating the recovery effort.

With almost 3,300 homes in ruin, three lives lost and hundreds evacuated, the Townsville floods have caused an estimated $1.5 billion in damage.

As communities finalise a massive clean-up effort, longer-term recovery efforts have intensified over the past weeks, with council lobbying the Federal Government to back its blueprint for economic recovery.

The Townsville Local Recovery and Resilience Group (TLRRG) has been at the forefront of longer-term community recovery efforts, while the Townsville Disaster Management Group (TDMG) has been managing immediate emergencies.

Since the floods hit earlier this month, the TLRRG has been coordinating immediate cleaning and repair works, including of roads and sewer pipes, as well as responding to any health and safety risks.

Severe flooding in Townsville has devastated hundreds of homes. Credit: Glenn Minty Mintern

But the group is also steering long-term recovery efforts, including looking at providing support for small business and undertaking economic planning for the city while lobbying for projects to boost local jobs.

The State Government has also been coordinating recovery efforts, offering financial assistance to those flood-affected in the Townsville Council area, with payments of up to $180 per person.

In Townsville on Thursday, Major General Stuart Smith met with local MPs with an update on the recovery effort, with $13.9 million in emergency hardship payments having been provided to 71,000 people.

Clean-up efforts continue; 100,000 supplies distributed

For the past few weeks council has been leading the short-term recovery efforts, providing locals with emergency supplies and offering free clean-up services.

Since authorities started collecting kerbside rubbish in flood impacted zones and providing residents with free dumping at waste facilities, 18,000 tonnes of waste has been disposed of.

More than 100,000 items have been distributed to members of the community as part of the recovery effort, with not-for-profit organisation GIVIT receiving more than $1 million dollars in cash donations earlier this month.

The money is helping provide locals with everyday necessities like clothes, beds and whitegoods.

Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said that as residents move back into their homes there is an increasing need for essential items.

“Some residents are fortunate enough to be moving back into their homes and there’s a growing demand for essential items,” she said.

The clean-up efforts are well underway in Townsville. Credit: Glenn Minty Mintern

Bringing it back to business

TLRRG Chair and Deputy Mayor Les Walker said injecting money back into business is essential to boost flood-recovery efforts, with many essential items coming from local shops.

“These items have been purchased locally from a range of stores so that is keeping the money in Townsville,” Cr Hill said.

Council is also working with insurers to make sure as many local workers as possible are employed in recovery efforts.

“We know there’s going to be a huge amount of jobs created during the rebuild, from sparkies to plumbers and chippies,” Cr Walker said.

The TLRRG has also launched a Queensland-first Small Business Recovery Centre, a one-stop-shop where business owners can receive advice about how to survive in tough conditions.

The centre offers support to small business on how they can access state and federal assistance in a bid to boost the city’s economic recovery.

Economic experts planning long-term

Meanwhile, the city is planning for its long-term recovery, with economic recovery planning and lobbying being undertaken by a group of experts, and a roadmap to be presented to the government.

‘Team Townsville”, a group of economic forecasters and policy specialists, are building a long-term recovery plan for the city to ensure infrastructure is rebuilt, and job growth is supported.

Cr Walker said council is already working on major projects to ensure the local economy isn’t dampened by the floods.

“It is important we plan now to ensure we secure funding for major projects to continue employment opportunities for our community – particularly local tradespeople.”

This week council is presenting its long-term recovery plan to the Federal Government, asking the government to back four key programs to boost the economy.

Have you been affected by the flood waters? If you are experiencing personal hardship contact Community Recovery on 1800 173 349.

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