09
Jun

Warnings could have been more effective in the two communities where people died, a major report into the 2016 Tasmanian floods has found.

An independent Review into the Tasmanian Floods of June and July 2016 found there were gaps in flood studies and flood plans, both in comprehensiveness and currency.

Three people died in the June 4-7 floods which caused $180 million worth of damage to houses, farms, livestock and infrastructure.

Photo: article supplied

Lead investigator Mike Blake said that in Latrobe, where 75-year-old Mary Allford died, an emergency evacuation order came eight hours after houses were inundated.

“The lateness of this message was a concern raised in a number of submissions from farmers in the Mersey Valley, and from the Latrobe Council,” Mr Blake said in the report.

“Members of the Latrobe community argued that information available regarding flood levels in the Mersey River and associated catchments was not timely nor accurate.

“Deteriorating conditions along the Mersey became known on Sunday afternoon (June 5) and in view of the flood watch advice provided by the Bureau of Meteorology as early as June 3, the severe weather warning provided on June 4 and, in light of major flood warnings elsewhere in the Mersey basin on the afternoon of June 5, we formed the view that more could have been done to monitor the river in real time and to get messaging out to affected residents.”

Mr Blake concluded that “while there may always be a case for communities to feel that they should have been provided with warnings sooner, our view is that BoM’s warnings were reasonable, and that, therefore, there is scope for communities to be more self-aware on this occasion. SES and the Latrobe Council could have acted sooner.

“It is the responsibility of local authorities to plan for flood impacts in their areas, including defining triggers for action. It is the responsibility of SES to disseminate community warnings about impacts.”

He said BoM’s flood watch and flood warnings were focused on the North as opposed to the North-West.

It was not a case that an appropriate plan did not exist at Latrobe but that it may not have been acted on.

Latrobe Council believed flood warning systems for the area were severely deficient, particularly given the flood occurred during darkness.

Mayor Peter Freshney said the council had been acting on the basis of a warning of a minor flood impact.



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