• Tony Bosworth

Mission accomplished – ADF forces withdrawn from the Hawkesbury

Australian Defence Force’s Operation NSW FLOOD ASSIST 21-1 is winding down and forces are being withdrawn from the Hawkesbury.

Some 170 ADF personnel were drafted into the Hawkesbury, the majority of them Army, with some RAAF and even a handful of Navy too.

They helped move 3500 cu m of flood damaged possessions and property, and handled road clearing and clean-up operations too.

A large part of the contingency spent time in the Macdonald Valley – two platoons, or around 80 personnel – with others helping across the Hawksbury.

The State Government asked for ADF assistance on March 22 to help in the emergency response and recovery efforts after last month’s floods.

At its peak, around 850 Army, Navy and Air Force personnel were assigned to the operation, supporting recovery efforts in and around Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Nambucca, Kempsey, Port Macquarie, Taree and the Hawkesbury Nepean.

Commander of the ADF Joint Task Group for NSW, Brigadier Mick Garraway, said the ADF always stood ready to help Australians in need.

“It has been an enormous privilege to be able to help out in some small way whether it’s removing debris, clearing roads to provide access, or clearing other flood and storm damage to support access to critical infrastructure or essential services,” Brigadier Garraway said.

“We’ve worked closely with Resilience NSW and other state agencies to ensure that our resources have been directed to areas most in need.

“Our mission was to set the conditions for deeper state-led recovery efforts.”

As the remaining relief tasks on the ground are completed, Brigadier Garraway expressed his appreciation for the way Defence personnel were welcomed into the communities.

“I want to thank these communities for the friendship and support they’ve shown our members, particularly given the hardship and losses many of them have faced.”

Defence personnel assisted state-led aerial evacuation operations; removed 900 tonnes of waste from homes, properties and businesses; checked, cleared and reopened 170 kilometres of roads; returned several jetties and piers to workable conditions; transported hundreds of litres of water and thousands of litres of fuel; and delivered 650 kilograms of fodder to local farmers.

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