HUNDREDS OF AUSTRALIAN TROOPS ON THE GROUND IN NORTH QUEENSLAND
INNISFAIL MAYOR CALLS FOR END OF VOLUNTEERS REBUILDING HIS TOWN, WANTS LOCALS TO GET THE VALUABLE EMPLOYMENT
From the Courier Mail : "THE defence force support for victims of Cyclone Larry is in full swing, with a military presence over air, land and sea throughout most of the shattered area.
"Innisfail is rapidly resembling a garrison city as hundreds of troops take to the streets. They are backed by an impressive array of equipment, including a fleet of massive diesel V8 Mack trucks which haul 20-tonne trailers and still "out-bush-bash" any four-wheel-drive on the market.
"Infantrymen are cleaning streets, assault pioneers can turn a muddy quagmire into a usable road, and supply personnel are setting up mini-warehouses.
"Using a mix of aircraft and vehicles, troops from the Townsville-based 3rd Brigade and the Cairns-based 51st Far North Queensland Regiment have been providing relief supplies – including tarpaulins, water, generators and food – to affected communities.
"Defence force teams also have been involved in repairing vital infrastructure, including communications restored to local radio station 4KZ, bridge repair and clearing a local school of debris. The navy also has been helping on land and at sea, with heavy landing craft used to move equipment at times when roads have been cut.
"Navy craft also will be used to move supplies and equipment between Townsville and Innisfail to minimise traffic impact on the Bruce Highway, which has been subject to flooding."
But the deployment of so many Australian soldiers into the disaster zone and moving fast into a rebuilding phase has caused friction with Innisfail Mayor Neil Clarke. And he would like to see an end to the flood of volunteers pouring into his town.
Accomodation and infrastructure not damaged by the cyclone are already stretched by the influx of volunteers and workers, and he would prefer his community use local businesses and tradespeople to do the rebuilding, not outsiders.