After heated debate in council chambers, Brisbane’s Lord Mayor has announced residents will be able to collect sandbags ahead of a forecast wet summer season.
- Brisbane City Council will make sandbags available to residents in September
- It’s the first time residents will be able to stock up ahead of storm season
- Council will also offer prizes to encourage residents to sign up to a weather alert system
Adrian Schrinner said a “super Saturday” event would be held on September 17 to allow flood-prone householders to prepare.
Describing it as “a new way of doing things with sandbags”, Cr Schrinner said it was the first time the council would provide sandbags like this ahead of summer.
It came after the Labor Opposition and independent councilor Nicole Johnston pressed the council to reveal what plans it had in place.
Cr Schrinner said 150,000 sandbags would be available for free collection, just short of the 177,000 which were distributed during the three-day deluge preceding February’s floods.
More sandbags would be filled after September 17 to ensure there was enough to meet demand leading up to summer, he added.
“There’s a lot we’ve learned from recent events.
“We will not have the same flood event we saw this year next year, it will be different, if it happens.
“It could be a flood event which includes river flooding, it could be flooding involving creek flooding.”
He said Brisbane’s 1974, 2011 and 2022 flood events were all different and the council had to make sure “we have all bases covered”.
However, Labor leader Jared Cassidy charged the Lord Mayor of being “unable to provide clarity over whether council has additional sandbagging machines and unable to say if there will be new sandbag collection locations”.
“The LNP council has 12 of its own flood review recommendations due tomorrow, including the issue of sandbags,” Cr Cassidy said.
“Seven months after the flood and Adrian Schrinner still hasn’t figured out how to get more sandbags to high-risk suburbs.
“This administration failed Brisbane residents during the February 2022 flood response, and they are failing them again if they think that providing 20,000 extra sandbags ahead of storm season is an adequate measure. We need additional locations.
“They couldn’t warn people, they couldn’t close roads and they didn’t have enough sandbags. I’m very worried for the coming storm season.”
Incentives to sign up to alert system
There were fiery exchanges on a number of flood-related issues, including how many more Brisbane residents had signed up to council’s early-warning flood-alert system.
Cr Schrinner said since February, about 8,000 more people had signed up to the Brisbane Severe Weather Alert Service run by Weatherzone, taking total subscribers to 173,039.
The Lord Mayor also said that from Wednesday a “major campaign” would kick off encouraging the community to sign up to the service, including prizes on offer for people who signed up in September.
More evacuation centers to come
Cr Schrinner refused to answer a question from Labor’s Kara Cook about how many more evacuation centers would be established before storm season.
He said council had a “well-resourced disaster and recovery team” that had identified 39 locations across the city that could house formal and community-run evacuation centers.
“We are working hard on a project that will see us very well prepared for next storm season.
“I’m not saying there will be 39 centers, but we will let people know as soon as that process is finalised.”
Some parks, dog areas remain closed
A council spokeswoman reported that 26 of the city’s 166 dog off-leash areas had been impacted by the floods — 19 have been repaired and seven remain closed.
“Repair works are about to get underway at Blackbutt Place Park, Chermside and Jindalee Boat Ramp,” the spokeswoman said.
“These works include fence repairs and turf remediation and replacement.
“Council is currently out to procurement for the works at 7th Brigade Park, Geebung Jim Walding Reserve, Bridgeman Downs, Martindale Street Park, Chermside West and Shand Street Park, Stafford.
“The dog off-leash area at Kookaburra Park West, Karana Downs was severely impacted and relocation is being considered.”
Just over half of council’s 640 sports and community facilities were impacted by the 2022 floods, including buildings, fields, lighting and pontoons.
“All organizations operating out of council facilities are back operating at full or partial capacity,” the spokeswoman said.
“The council issued one-off disaster relief payments of $5,000 to 313 impacted organizations — this was launched within five days of the peak of the severe weather event and more than $1.5 million in financial relief was given.
“Council is seeking funding from the Queensland Reconstruction Authority and Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport to deliver about 30 repair projects at community facilities.
“Council’s Rebuild and Recovery Flood-Resilient Clubs Program will assist 101 facilities build back more resilient.”
A total of 296 of council’s 1,072 playgrounds were impacted and “all parks were assessed within a week after water receded and make-safe works were done”, the spokeswoman said.
Four playgrounds — Cliveden Park in Fig Tree Pocket, Julatten Place Park at Upper Kedron, Taylor Bridge Reserve in Chelmer and Tillack Park at Mansfield — remained closed; some might be relocated or removed, she added.