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Emotions run high at community flood forum

FLOOD MEETING: A large crowd turned up the flood forum held in the auditorium at the Bundaberg Wide Bay TAFE. Photo: Zach Hogg / NewsMail
FLOOD MEETING: A large crowd turned up the flood forum held in the auditorium at the Bundaberg Wide Bay TAFE. Photo: Zach Hogg / NewsMail Zach Hogg

WHILE emotions ran high, and the pain felt following the aftermath of the extreme weather events this year was still noticeably raw, attendees of the community flood forum walked away with a renewed sense of hope.

After three solid hours hearing from council engineers, Mayor Mal Forman, the Bundaberg and Burnett MPs and victims themselves, the forum on Friday night concluded with the establishment of four key outcomes.

The crowd voted in favour of the need for early warning systems, river dredging and for the full report into the integrity of Paradise Dam be released to the public.

It also voted to have Bundaberg Regional Council explore the concept of bypass channels - part of Fairymead project developer Geoff Burchill's forum overview - as part of the flood mitigation study, with the proviso that a report on it also includes the issue of potential backwash.

A fifth outcome was also formally endorsed by the public - that forum organiser Chris Hardy, and Bundaberg region fishing identity, John Olsen, form part of the council's Community Reference Group to help guide the development of its floodplain risk management plan, known as the Burnett River Floodplain Action Plan.

The issue of the integrity of Paradise Dam was raised several times on the evening, with some people claiming it was not structurally sound.

But Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett assured the crowd there was nothing wrong with the dam, and the government had already spent $25 million in dam repairs.

Earlier on in the evening, Mayor Mal Forman again declined to answer the 14 questions posed by Mrs Hardy that were published in the NewsMail but, after a bit of pressure from the audience, he offered up some responses as each question was read out aloud by the forum facilitator.

Council engineer Andrew Fulton was able to shed some light on question 10, surrounding the council supporting another public community meeting to discuss flood mitigation and recovery.

Mr Fulton revealed there would be consultation forums held in the main areas that had been flooded and vowed to consider holding them in areas such as Branyan and Sharon, which two audience members said had been "forgotten".

Cr Forman repeatedly told the audience that all options put forward on the night would be considered.

He stressed that ideas put on the table that evening were what the community reference group was calling for and those with ideas were urged to email them to floods@bundaberg.gov.au.

Topics:  floods 2013



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