Late on the evening of January 8, Defence accepted a request for urgent recovery assistance from the Queensland Reconstruction Authority to provide ADF support to access and resupply isolated and vulnerable communities in the vicinity of Douglas, Cook and Wujal Wujal.
The Australian Army’s Joint Task Group 629.3, having already been engaged during the Far North Queensland floods following ex-Tropical Cyclone Jasper in December, and the Christmas and Boxing Day storms in south-east Queensland, sprung into action.
An amphibious unit from 10th Force Support Battalion (10FSB) sailed from Townsville to Cairns on January 10 to collect cargo, including heavy equipment and building materials, for the reconstruction and recovery of the affected areas.
Corporal Ridge Debono, captain of Landing Craft AB1059, and a crew of five alongside 10FSB, have a long history of supporting similar operations with their amphibious capability.
“In May, this year I will have served 10 years with the Australian Army. I love the Army and I love being on the water. This is my dream job,” he said.
“We provide a specialist capability that sees us involved at the ‘get-go’ in a variety of operations. We find the work rewarding, and especially so when you are helping out fellow Aussies. The relief on the people’s faces when we rock up with our big equipment, generators, food and water gives me a great sense of purpose and pride.”
The ADF will provide CH-47F Chinook helicopters and a landing craft to transport bulk resupply and delivery of engineering equipment into isolated communities recovering from Ex-Tropical Cyclone Jasper.
Defence will also provide personnel and equipment to help clear larger scale debris to access isolated communities, as well as specialist aviation and maritime planners and light engineering support.
Commander of Joint Task Group 629.3 Brigadier Richard Peace said Defence had been in continual discussions with the relevant authorities to prioritise the recovery process.
“The ADF has very specialist capabilities, which is why we sent ADF planners to Cairns to provide specialised support to the Queensland Reconstruction Authority,” Brigadier Peace said.
“I’m continually impressed by the work ethic, compassion and professionalism across the various units and people who have been involved in my joint task group during this high-risk weather season.
“We have responded to requests for assistance very quickly and delivered much-needed support and relief – I am humbled by the dedication and willingness of my soldiers to keep on going until the job is done.”