According to Alan Hives, Deputy Group Officer Creswick Group, it was a very busy time but District 15 members simply rolled up their sleeves and did a magnificent job.
“Members did all sorts of things from filling sandbags to saving dogs to helping people get out of houses,” he says.
In Creswick some 97 buildings, shops and houses were affected, 37 in Clunes and two in Allendale, so back up from other brigades was greatly appreciated. Alan adds that they received wonderful support by brigade members from Kingston, Smeaton, Glenn Park, Mollongghip and Newlyn Dean.
“A strike team from the Eureka group assisted with the manual work; we said ‘bring your boat not your fire truck’”. CFA also worked with SES, Victoria Police, Rapid Impact Assessment Teams from MFB and Hepburn Shire emergency management response staff.
Alan says he is proud that members thought outside the box as fast as the waters rose. “My observations were that the volunteer brigades had skills, abilities and local knowledge, the systems and gear in place and the nouse to use it”, he says.
“The effort they put in was all above and beyond.”
Members of the Creswick Urban Fire Brigade (CUFB) found their motor room under water when they returned from assisting locals to evacuate from the rising flood waters. Along with the CUFB garden washing away, turnout gear was soaked, two refrigerators, a freezer, generator, positive pressure fan, compressor, mower and pressure pumps will all need to be replaced.
CUFB captain Robert Squires says that over 30 of the brigade’s operational members were involved either in rescuing residents, sandbagging or traffic control throughout the hectic weekend.
“We got our first call 8.20am Saturday morning at the hospital and our next call was at 9.22am for people trapped in a house and it went from there,” he says. With many older residents needing assistance it was all hands on deck. “Ballarat Rescue came out and assisted and we sent our members around the units under threat and evacuated people,” he says.
Yesterday members scraped mud out of the motor room, pumped water out of the drains and drained the water tanks as they have been undermined (sand washed away) and need a new sand base.
However, it wasn’t just flood calls that kept CUFB busy.
“We worked on cleaning out the mud inbetween calls to gas leaks and trees across roads and a mine shaft collapse,” Robert says.
Over at Clunes Fire Station, Captain Jim Kerin is relived that his engine bay is above flood level. He agrees that members from all over were a great help during the deluge.
“We got good support from Ullina and Glendaruel Mt Beckworth who helped with traffic control,” he says. “We also had some group officers from Ballarat and they loaned us their car for the weekend to use with our fire trucks.”
Damage was mainly to the town’s caravan park and approximately 15 residences affected by water.
“It really worked well; no hiccups and the jobs needing to be done were done quickly and well. I thought everyone did a really did a great job”, Jim says.
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