• Tony Bosworth

Call for action on emergency centre for west of the river

Updated: Dec 11, 2021

Hawkesbury residents west of the river remain without dedicated emergency facilities like an evacuation centre because the Federal and State Governments continue to sit on their hands over disaster preparation, Macquarie MP Susan Templeman has said today.

CareFlight had to airlift a pregnant woman from North Richmond to hospital during the March floods because there is no hospital west of the river

If you were on the west side of the river during the big March flood you’ll remember the food and essential supplies shortages as landslides closed Bells Line of Road and North Richmond and Windsor bridges were under water, isolating the region.

And even when supplies eventually began to be ferried over the river on barges, as soon as it entered the shops it was pretty much gone. It wasn’t a good time, especially for those like the old and infirm who couldn’t just rush out to the shops in the hope something was left on the shelves.

Ms Templeman says staff at the North Richmond Community Centre and volunteer groups did an “extraordinary job” when the community was cut off during the March floods, but were swamped with requests.

“The location of this centre means it has the potential to play an even bigger role in times of crisis; an evacuation centre when there’s bushfires, and a co-ordination hub when it floods,” Ms Templeman said.

MP Templeman at the North Richmond Community Centre which served as the temporary meeting place for displaced locals west of the river during the March floods

“The population is growing around North Richmond and we saw during the last floods what happens when the bridge is cut by water, and the roads cut by landslides,” Ms Templeman said.

“The community is making a big effort to be better prepared during emergencies.

“But the big question people ask is, what has the government done to help us get ready for the next one? The answer is nothing.

“Even when it isn’t a major natural disaster, there isn’t even an ambulance centre or fire station west of the river.

“It’s an absolute disgrace that the Liberal Morrison and Perrottet Governments have failed to act to provide the fast-growing community around North Richmond with any place to turn to during an emergency,” says the MP.

“Two years ago we were shrouded in smoke. Nine months ago we were inundated, and between those two events was a Royal Commission that pointed out how important it was to be prepared.

“Everyone in the Hawkesbury knows that natural disasters are going to happen, but apparently it doesn’t occur to the Liberals.

“The Morrison Government could do something about it tomorrow using the Emergency Response Fund. They’ve hardly spent a cent of that since it was set up in 2019, and it’s earned more than $700 million in interest – just 1 per cent of that interest could build facilities the Hawkesbury can only dream of right now.

“The Liberals have had 10 years to act but have instead sat back and watched as major fires and floods have swept through our region. They have failed our community,” said Ms Templeman.

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