Aviators fly to the rescue

Helping stranded property owners in central-west NSW has been a rewarding experience for two Air Force aviators during Operation Flood Assist 22-2.

CAPTION: Air Force personnel wrap sandbag pallets for transportation at the New South Wales State Emergency Service depot in Forbes, during Operation Flood Assist. Story by Captain Zoe Griffyn. Photo by Corporal David Cotton.

Deployed to Forbes, NSW, the aviators worked with State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers after the record-breaking floods.

Aircraftman Kade Kennaway and Leading Aircraftwoman Anya Morris, from RAAF Base Townsville, flew by helicopter to a property 30km west of Forbes that remained surrounded by flood water after three weeks.

Once they arrived, the pair helped unload sandbags delivered by helicopter and used them to plug a hole in a burst levee.

Aircraftman Kennaway said it was hard work, but very rewarding.

“We spent most of the day sandbagging the levee or waiting for helicopters to come in with big loads of more sandbags,” Aircraftman Kennaway said.

“We also helped dig out a tractor that got bogged during the day.

“I didn’t know what to expect, but as soon as we arrived we were all working together to make a big difference. They were so grateful we were there, and we were grateful to be able to help.”

The recent floods blocked all road access around property owned by Stephen and Margaret.

“I was stranded in Orange for three weeks before the SES could get me back home,” Margaret said.

“And even now it looks like another three weeks before we will be able to leave.

“Our neighbours have to bring groceries by a small boat because there is no other way to get through.”

Margaret said the ADF’s help had been vital.

“If they hadn’t been here the water would be up to our waist and would only come higher and higher,” she said.

Leading Aircraftwoman Morris said deployments like Flood Assist were the reason she joined the Air Force.

“I want to help those who are struggling, and it’s amazing to do it in my own backyard,” Leading Aircraftwoman Morris said.

“As soon as the call went out for Flood Assist I volunteered.

“I will put my hand up for any other Assist – I will be there for those in need.”

CAPTION: Aircraftman Kennaway and Leading Aircraftwoman Morris watch as a NSW Rural Fire Service helicopter delivers sandbags to the residence of Stephen and Margaret, to assist in retaining a burst water levee on their property. Photo by Corporal David Cotton.






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