For the first time in Queensland history, an entire town was evacuated when Theodore flooded.
For the first time in Queensland history, an entire town was evacuated when Theodore flooded. Daryl Wright

Council waits for chopper quote

THE evacuation of Theodore was delayed for hours because the council was getting quotes on how much helicopters would cost to airlift residents to safety.

Cr Vaughn Becker, who represents Theodore in the Banana Shire, told the flood inquiry in Rockhampton yesterday that he questioned the delay between when he asked for the mass evacuation of the town and the arrival of the helicopters.

“I questioned the time from when I ... pressed the button and the information went up to the Local Disaster Management Group and to when the evacuation took place,” he said.

“I queried why there was a delay in the helicopters coming and the person deputised to stand in for (local disaster co-ordinator) Collin Head ... advised me of the need for them to seek these quotations.”

Cr Becker said the delay took several hours. Counsel assisting the inquiry Elizabeth Wilson asked: “A delay you thought was no good at the time?”

“Too right,” Cr Becker responded.

At the start of the inquiry the court was told the entire population of Theodore was evacuated when the Dawson River reached 14.7m.

The town was evacuated on December 28 last year to Moura.

“As far as we're aware this is the first time in Queensland history that an entire town had to be evacuated,” Counsel assisting the inquiry Peter Callaghan said.

Cr Becker said the difference between the response to the March 2010 flood and the last flood was “chalk and cheese”.

He said a more local approach through the Local Emergency Coordination Committee, of which he was chairman, worked “extremely well” compared to the last flood. “I think the best thing is keep it as local as you can.”



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