07 April 2006

Katherine floods: are the authorities on top of the situation?

the ABC website today at 1:48pm:

Emergency services in the Northern Territory town of Katherine have acknowledged several houses in the town could have water up to their roofs.Last night Counter Disaster Commander Kate Vanderlaan said she had no reports of severe damage to homes.

Today she acknowledged as many as 12 houses in the north of the town could be covered up to their roofs.

At 8:30 am AEST today the ABC website posted this:
Katherine residents have woken up to uncertainty about the water levels in the flooded town.Authorities were saying the river had peaked overnight, but is now expected to reach 19.2 metres at the Katherine River bridge later this morning.This conflicts with advice from police and the weather bureau that the river peaked overnight....Overnight the weather bureau said the water level at the bridge was slowly falling but police now expect the water to go up.

Lee was travelling through Katherine when the roads closed and spent the night on a camp bed in the high school gym.He says he feels uncertain about today.

"Regular updates would be a big improvement on things at the moment, we're sort of in the dark," he said."Unless you crowd around the radio nobody knows what's going on."

To its credit the Northern Territory News has not ducked the issue:

Commander Kate Vanderlaan conceded last night that the initial assessment of the Katherine Region Counter Disaster Planning Committee just hours prior to the evacuation of the town may have been incorrect.

She said her statement at an 8am press conference that the ``urgency is not there at the moment'' was based on a glitch in the system that measured the height of floodwaters at Katherine Gorge _ the driving force behind the massive flow.

``The level of flooding was slightly surprising,'' she said.

``But at least the gorge is going down now.''

And now, another ABC website posting at 6:00pm AEST, including this

Emergency services in flood-stricken Katherine say the flooding could have been been better managed but they are relatively happy with how information was communicated.Authorities in Katherine waited until late yesterday morning to sound the evacuation siren prompting an exodus from the north, south and centre of the town.

Resident Laurel Martin says the alarm could have been raised sooner. "A lot of them say they didn't have a lot of warning this time," she said.

But resident Ray Newman disagrees."I think they had plenty of warning around the place here and I think Katherine was pretty prepared for it," he said.

Counter-disaster commander Kate Vanderlaan says the shelters had to be ready before the sirens triggered evacuations.
"It could've been better, anything could've been better," she said.

No further comment.

No comments: