BMT WBM assist with Victorian Floods
To manage flood events such as the January 2011 Victorian floods, State and Regional Incident Controls Centres are setup by Victorian emergency services. BMT WBM’s Mick Turnley Manager of the Flooding Group in Victoria, along with Joel Leister and Phil Pedruco, both Senior Flood Engineers, were called upon to provide assistance in these Centres. Co-ordinated through the Department of Sustainability and Environment, Mick, Joel and Phil were rostered at the State and Incident Controls Centres providing real-time flood intelligence translating Bureau of Meteorology information and assisting with emergency services communications.
The Bureau of Meteorology provided flood forecasts to the State Control Centre during the floods based on gauge heights and rainfall. Mick and Joel in their role at the State Control Centre translated the forecasts and other available information into likely consequences. “In some instances, there were wide gaps in the available data, so we had to use our skills and experience to make calls about what areas were likely to impacted” says Mick.
In one particular case, the team confirmed that the Kerang and Horsham electricity sub-stations were under threat from floodwaters. For the Kerang sub-station, “we advised them to build a levy as soon as possible” says Mick. Based on this advice,and confirmation from on ground-staff, temporary levies were erected and the sub-station was protected.
Phil helped out at the Bendigo Incident Control Centre, while Joel also helped outin the Wangaratta Incident Control Centre, providing more localised information directly to State Emergency Services. “We were liaising directly with the SES, police, CFA, ambulance services, and other regional control teams and government departments” says Phil. “We also had to assist with the wording of information provided to the public, including media releases and forecast information” says Joel. Reflecting on the experience, Mick said “It was challenging but good to be able to help make a difference. It gave us an opportunity to use our expertise in a real life situation and to see first-hand how information from flood studies is used to help communities respond in times of flood”.
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