Commander's Desk | March 17

Over the last few days, I’ve been away from the office for emergency management training.

The focus was on evacuation in emergency situations like fire, flood and storms, and there was one thing that really stood out to me: our job would be so much easier, and lives and properties would be saved, if people were prepared.

If communities had a plan, and built some resilience into their homes in the face of such emergencies, it would make life easier for everyone.

If you know you are in an area prone to bushfires or floods, have a plan so that you can leave the house at short notice, and leave it protected. Clear out your gutters, know what you need to take with you, don’t leave it until the last minute.

It makes our job a lot easier when we know our community is resilient, and that frees us up to use our resources to evacuate those that need it, such as schools, nursing homes and hospitals.

On a related topic, you might have noticed that it’s rained a bit lately.

So now seems like a good time to emphasise some rules about driving in the wet.

Avoid water over the road – our community lost someone last time there was a lot of rain and we don’t want to see a repeat of that.

The message is simple: don’t drive in flooded waters, and slow down in the rain. 

I personally have been stuck in flooded waters. I was driving in the dark on Unanderra Road, and at that very instant, the gutters overflowed and it was up to the windows of the car. It was pretty scary. I had to climb out the roof.

The majority of fatalities on flooded roads since 2000 have occurred 20kms from the victim’s home, suggesting they were on familiar roads. Half of flood fatalities happen when they are attempting to cross a flooded road causeway or bridge. Almost 80 percent of those killed this way are men, with young men under 29 years most at risk. 

Take heed of warning messages; don’t just think you’ll make it through.