Rebuilding North Queensland after the recent floods

North Queenslanders are still reeling from extensive damage caused by flooding in February this year. The initial disaster response has ended, but long-term assistance is desperately needed. Construction workers can put their skills to good use and contribute to the community, by helping people to rebuild their lives. — In this article:

“Catastrophic” flood damage:

It was a grim start to the year for people in North Queensland, who were hit by a monsoon that became vicious as it merged with a slow moving tropical low. Six people died, wildlife was decimated and an estimated 500 000 cattle perished as a result of the rising waters. Heartbreaking. On top of this, properties and infrastructure were destroyed – costing the state budget at least $1.5 billion. Townsville and surrounding areas copped 1.4 to 1.6 metres of rain in under two weeks, which is unprecedented. This has completely devastated farmers, who’ve struggled to cope with years of drought. They would have welcomed the rain at first, but their joy quickly turned to horror at the sheer amount of it. Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk called this a ‘one in 100-year event’ and announced an independent inquiry to see why authorities were unprepared for the barrage of water. “As well as breaking records for a region no stranger to wet seasons, the floodwaters have cut roads and power, damaged infrastructure such as water and sewerage lines, and isolated vulnerable communities,” Premier Palaszczuk said.
“The flood waters may be gone in most parts, what I’ve heard from speaking with people in these communities who were badly impacted is that they’re hurting, they will be dealing with this disaster for a long time to come.”
Even if there isn’t more flooding as ex-cyclone Trevor travels south from the Northern Territory, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the damage from this monsoon could take years to repair and a long-term plan is needed. After the immediate support services have packed up and left, Queenslanders will still need help to fix the damage and rebuild their lives. Are you a licensed tradesperson who wants to make homes, buildings and infrastructure safe again? You can get paid to lend your skills to this worthy cause, or volunteer on various projects.

North Queensland reconstruction

Construction workers in demand for paid work

Qualified builders or tradies can become part of the reconstruction movement by applying to join the North Qld Flood Register. Interested? You’ll be asked to provide the following information:
  • Full name or company name on your licence
  • Phone number
  • Licence number
  • Email address
  • Services you can provide
  • Regions you’re willing to assist
  • Home state
  • Availability (start and finish date)

It’s crucial that all workers familiarise themselves with health and safety information for natural disasters. Don’t put your life, or the lives of others at risk!

You can also volunteer to assist with the recovery effort here.

Does your home or property need repairing?

If you need a licensed contractor to fix flood-related damage at your property, please ‘search the register’ to find suitable assistance. In addition to this: We recommend reading these vital government resources to make sure you’re protecting your home from minor and major problems that often arise from extensive water damage.
    • Dealing with subsidence (excessive movement of the ground)

North Queensland construction workers

Local is best

The Queensland government has promised to prioritise local providers for flood damage repairs with a new campaign. More than 700 qualified local workers have joined the official register to tackle this mammoth task, according to Mick de Brenni, the Minister for Housing. The vetted list includes electricians, gas contractors and asbestos removalists.
“North Queensland has been through a lot in the past few weeks and if anyone should get the job of helping the community back to its feet, it’s licensed local tradespeople.” Mr de Brenni
“The rebuilding effort will obviously tally in the hundreds of millions of dollars and the bulk of that money should stay in the North Queensland economy,” he said. Master Builders Australia has pledged to work behind the scenes to make sure that insurance companies get on board with this plan, whenever possible.
“We understand that local contractors have important local knowledge, and keeping the work within the community also has ongoing economic benefits. We will fight hard on your behalf and be encouraging insurers and affected people to use local contractors wherever possible.”
Although the floods have devastated communities, local builders will benefit from the work the recovery effort brings in. Building approvals have fallen by 39 per cent over the past year in North Queensland, hitting rock bottom. This recent activity goes some way towards counteracting that.

Townsville floods 2019

What are builders repairing?

Here’s a general picture of the damage so far: Many roads are still blocked by flood water in Cook Shire, making it impossible to examine the level of destruction. So far the roads appear to be in bad shape, according to an engineer who was sent there. At least 738 severely damaged homes, 252 of which cannot be lived in. Approximately $80 million in infrastructure damage, although this is conservative.

Bridge damage, scouring and washouts on the Mount Isa Townsville rail line. This is being urgently addressed, because workers in the mining and agricultural sectors rely on the line.

Safe-guarding against destruction in the future

It isn’t good enough to repair flood damage and call it a day. There needs to be more focus on implementing designs that can withstand the severe conditions in the first place, to minimise or prevent deterioration. This is on the agenda of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who says “Queensland is the most disaster-impacted state in Australia.” She set up the $38 million Queensland Disaster Resilience Fund, which the Queensland Reconstruction Authority will administer over four years. Government and non-government organisations can apply for funding to help guard their communities against natural disasters. This money covers infrastructure projects, as well as other vital initiatives. Applications for the first round close on 18 April 2019. On the other side of Parliament, LNP Senate candidate Susan McDonald is also concerned about this. She promises to push for roads, rail and infrastructure to be built to a higher standard.
“As we move through the immediate disaster response into recovery, as a nation we need to take the opportunity to be more strategic in our investments and build serious infrastructure to allow the north and north west to rebuild as one of the great food, particularly beef production areas, in the world.”

North Queensland floods 2019

More resources for people affected by the floods: