Op FLOOD ASSIST 23-1: An RAAF C-130J Hercules has transported emergency services workers to support the Kimberley region flood emergency.
News Release, Canberra, 08 January 2023: A Royal Australian Air Force C-130J aircraft has transported a team of more than 50 Western Australian emergency services workers to Broome to support the flood emergency in the state’s Kimberley region. The C-130 Hercules aircraft picked up the personnel – which included members from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, WA Police, State Emergency Services and WA Country Health Service – from Perth airport following a request for Defence support from the Western Australian government.
Department of Fire and Emergency Services Superintendent Sven Andersen, the taskforce leader of the group, said the members included a specialist storm damage team, flood teams and incident management personnel to help deal with the flood emergency situation. “Without the support of the Australian Defence Force on this deployment we wouldn’t be able to get to the areas needed to support the teams already up in the Kimberley,” Superintendent Andersen said.
Defence is providing transport aircraft at the request of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and will provide personnel and supplies as well as assist in the evacuation of flood-affected residents.
Flying Officer Johnathan Gough, a Combat Systems Officer with No. 37 Squadron, said the weather had continued to present challenges in the aftermath of Ex-Tropical Cyclone Ellie. “Some of the runways that we’ve been asked to support are currently experiencing severe flooding and there’s still a lot of cyclonic activity in the area. That makes it quite hard to get into certain airfields,” Flying Officer Gough said.
However, he said the C-130 Hercules and two C-27 Spartan aircraft currently deployed were well suited to working in remote regions. “The Hercules is particularly well suited to this task because we can carry quite a lot of personnel and equipment and we can also get into short airfields and remote communities that other commercial aircraft or larger airlift aircraft would not get into.
Flying Officer Gough said the crew expects to conduct evacuations from some of the communities that are now cut off by flooding and will continue to move emergency services and equipment and supplies as required. “It’s definitely a privilege to be able to help out and use our training to assist the community and show Australia what we can do in this really cool aircraft,” he said.