Senator the Honourable Bridget McKenzie and MP the Honourable Mark Ryan have announced that the government will provide funding to support communities in what is expected to be a massive cleanup effort across south east Queensland.
On Saturday a joint media release from the Minister for Emergency Management and National Recovery and Resilience, and the Queensland Minister for Fire and Emergency Services stated that disaster assistance had been activated for 10 local government areas in the south east, through the jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).
These areas included the Fraser Coast, Gold Coast, Gympie, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Logan, Noosa, North Burnett, Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba regions.
This was followed up by another media release this morning which stated that the disaster assistance would be extended to include the Brisbane, Moreton Bay, Redland, Scenic Rim, Somerset, South Burnett and Southern Downs local government area, taking the total number of councils to 17.
Yesterday it was also announced that residents in the affected and evacuated communities of Gympie and the North Burnett would be eligible for Personal Hardship Assistance, also through the DRFA.
This means that those affected can access grants of up to $180 per person or a maximum of $900 for a family of five, which will hopefully cover the costs of essential items such as food and clothing, as well as the safe reconnection of essential services when residents are able to safely return to their homes.
Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie said that even though the extreme weather event was far from over, it was imperative that local councils knew they would be supported in helping their communities recover once floodwaters had receded.
"For the second time in as many months, south east Queensland finds itself at the centre of another unfolding emergency, with many roads and bridges in the region already submerged," the Senator said.
"Today's announcement means funding is there for these councils to help them with the clean-up that will be required when the floodwaters recede.
"It is essential that all those hardest hit by the recent floods have access to assistance.
"The Australian and Queensland governments continue to work closely to support ongoing recovery efforts and identify where further assistance may be required to ensure all impacted communities have the best possible support."
MP Mark Ryan said although it would be a while before the true effects of the disaster could be uncovered, it was important that those impacted knew they would have access to funding when the it was time to look at the necessary clean-up and repairs.
"I would like to extend my thanks to the hard working emergency service workers who have been working around the clock to ensure the safety of the community as floods continue to inundate many parts of the south east," the MP said.
"In Gympie, hundreds of residents have been evacuated as we prepare for the Mary River to peak at heights not seen for more than two decades. Already we've seen the River reach beyond the heights of the 2011 and 2013 floods.
"In Dallarnil, we're seeing properties washed out and residents affected who have only just started recovering from the devastation of the Ex-Tropical Cyclone Seth flooding event last month.
"With the rain still tumbling down and catchments and rivers still rising, it will be some time until we have a clear understanding of the true impacts of the floods, but in these early stages we're committed to providing DRFA support to Councils as quickly as we can and will continue to extend as additional information comes to hand."
In a press conference earlier this morning, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said that the "extreme weather event" was an evolving situation.
"It has been fast, it has been furious, and it has had a big impact," she said.
Speaking of the 17 councils who had already been activated for funding assistance, Premier Palaszczuk said that the next step towards recovery was to conduct rapid assessments.
"As you can see this morning's briefing has been very comprehensive and I just want assure everyone that we are doing everything that we can and working with the councils to make sure that everyone is able to respond as quickly as possible," she said.
"But let's remember that there are people who are still going through this extreme weather event at the moment."
The Premier also mentioned that their were 200 Australian Defence Force personel ready and waiting to assist with the impending recovery.
The Department of Defence issued a media alert announcing that it had commenced assistance to south east communities and Queensland authorities.
The statement mentioned that two Australian Army MRH-90 Taipan helicopters from the School of Army Aviation, based at Oakey, had been issued for search and rescue operations on Friday evening and were crewed with Australian Army personnel and Defence contractors.
Also read: Queensland flood crisis 'unrelenting'
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