LETTER | Residents not happy with sandbag distribution

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

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To the Editor,

I must admit I wonder why the Douglas Shire council has apparently decided to “play favourites” with some residents within the shire.

The council has been advertising that if residents require sandbags and or sand to fill them in the event of property flooding then both sandbags and sand are available free of charge from the SES Shed in Mossman and also at the SES in Port Douglas.

“What about the rest of the residents? Do we not pay enough rates and taxes to deserve the same privilege?”

As long-time residents of Wonga Beach, the question has to be asked why we CANNOT have access to a pile of sand at the local Wonga Beach SES Shed (located behind the RFS station on Oleander Drive), as we have in previous years.

My wife Caroline contacted the Douglas Shire Council and was informed “it was not a council problem and we were welcome to drive into the Mossman SES Shed to fill sandbags, and we should contact the SES”, this response was provided by Local Disaster Management for the DSC.

Therefore we spoke with a gentleman from Mossman SES, Caroline explained the issue to him, and his response was “I will ring the Disaster Coordinator at the council”. Caroline then went on to explain that she had already tried that, the gentleman from Mossman SES then explained that “it was not an SES issue”

Caroline even tried contacting the SES Hotline in Brisbane; she still has not received a reply.

I believe it would be safe to assume that other outlying areas of the shire would also be experiencing this situation, for example during 2019 floods, council placed a large pile of sand for sandbags down near the Daintree Ferry Carpark for residents to access.

As Wonga Beach residents, we can be cut off from Mossman due to river levels at the Mossman River, Salt Water Creek and even Sciaca’s cutting road access to Mossman.

With continuous heavy rain water levels can rise quickly, and while soil drainage at Wonga, being mainly sand is usually very good water levels can rise very quickly.

As residents we keep a stock of dry sandbags at home in case of requiring “emergency deployment” to protect our property, however, with no stock of sand the council expects residents to drive into Mossman.

In our particular circumstances our residence is at the highest point of our street, and the time it takes for water to back up high enough to cause flooding problems usually only occurs after the road access to Mossman is closed, and occurs when the tide is at its highest.

It is not possible to store filled sandbags as they rot and fall apart when filled with sand.

Caroline and I feel so strongly about this that we have purchased a load of sand, paid for at our own expense and arranged for it to be delivered by a local Sand and Gravel Merchant, to the SES Shed at Wonga, for use by Wonga residents in case of emergency.

When we ordered the sand and the reason for the delivery was explained to the sand merchant, he expressed his surprise, said that he had already provided sand to the council for sandbags to both Mossman and Port Douglas SES sheds, for exactly the same reasons.

This issue is something that neither the council nor SES wishes to take responsibility for, so it has become the “proverbial hot potato”.

I would appreciate questions being raised, as to why the council has stop providing basic emergency flood protection infrastructure for Douglas shire residents.

Caroline and Ian Arcus

- Douglas Shire


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