Local SES volunteers return home

February 7, 2011

Two of Bingara’s SES volunteers returned home to Bingara by helicopter last Sunday week, after three weeks of continuous flood jobs. Peter Turnbull and Geoff Leech spent the last week of this stint of service in Mungindi, providing general assistance to the townspeople and businesses.

The hospital had been evacuated before the flood waters  cut off all access roads to the town, seeing it completely isolated. Geoff and Peter were ready to provide general assistance but were in Mungindi as swift water rescue crew.

The volunteers monitored water levels, sending the information to the North West Region Headquarters of the SES and the Roads and Traffic Authority. They also were kept occupied ferrying food, medical supplies and other necessities into town by helicopter, as it was totally isolated by the flood waters.

Geoff reported to the Advocate that the levy bank around the town, which had been renewed last year, kept the town safe. However, there were some minor water problems. Geoff was involved in a pumping job at the hospital, where the gate valve from the Barwon River had been compromised, allowing seepage from the river inside the levy bank. There was also surface water to be pumped back into the river.

The Bingara SES also relieved the local team, so that they could have a few days off.

While involved in the pumping job at the hospital, Geoff was bitten “probably by a redback spider”, he was told by hospital staff. Geoff continued to suffer a great deal of pain from the bite, ending up with blood poisoning. Geoff suggested that this misadventure saw him and Peter receive “special treatment”, being brought back to Bingara by air, rather than the usual flight to Moree and then driving home.

According to Geoff, Peter was most concerned that Geoff should seek attention for his painful thumb, as he was worried about all the paperwork he would have to attend to if Geoff “snuffed it.” Meanwhile, SES volunteers, Lou Faint and Lisa Laird went up to Bonshaw last Friday to assist In-verell and Moree crews with the clean up after the flood there. The town, which does not have a levy bank, saw inundation of the school and surrounding properties.

The Rural Fire Service water truck was used to wash the mud off the concrete areas around the school. It was fortunate that Lou and Lisa are members of both the SES and the RFS.

The area is very fortunate have the services of two SES teams, however, more volunteers are needed.

Peter Turnbull told the Advocate that if anyone has a little time on their hands to give to the SES, the service would welcome more members. “It’s a lot of fun,” Peter said.