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K’gari Cleans Up After the Flood

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In March, over 40 cubic metres of flood debris washed up on K’gari (Fraser Island) beaches as a result of flooding from northern NSW and South East Queensland.

Some of the millions of pieces of plastic that washed up onto K’gari following the flood (Photo: contributed)

For the next two weeks, tide after tide brought in a new assortment of items. The debris included a large number of trees, plastic and even pontoons.

Plastic items included Lime e-scooter helmets from Brisbane, rainwater tanks, kayaks, and skip bins swept in from the southeast. Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service is using machinery to clear large pieces of debris.

Polystyrene pontoons were relocated above the high tide mark by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service while Maritime Safety Queensland attempted to identify owners and insurers.

It was all-hands-on-deck as QPWS and BAC’s Butchulla Land and Sea Rangers joined locals and tourism operators in the clean-up.

Hana Robinson from K’gari (Fraser Island) Adventures, which runs annual clean-ups with help from not-for-profit group Ocean Crusaders, said she had seen Ipswich City Council bins and air compressors washed up on K’gari’s usually pristine shores.

Hana had initially planned to count the rubbish pieces collected by their volunteers to highlight the scale of the situation, which she described as the worst she had seen. In the first three days alone, 780,000 pieces were collected by about 30 volunteers, totalling over two tonnes.

On 15 March 2022, the Premier announced the Office of the Inspector-General of Emergency Management will conduct a review of the South East Queensland (SEQ) Rainfall and Flooding Event of February-March 2022. As part of the review, the Office will assess the effectiveness of preparedness activities and the response to the SEQ Rainfall and Flooding Event.

The Inspector-General of Emergency Management, Alistair Dawson APM said, “It is an important opportunity for the community to have their say about their experience from this event, and how they were affected by it. Submissions provide an opportunity for the community to tell us what they think worked well in preparing for and responding to the event, and to make suggestions for enhancement.”

Submissions closed on 22 April, but the K’gari clean-up continues with the annual Four-Wheel Drive Queensland (QLD 4×4) clean up event scheduled for 20-23 May. A huge thank you to all the amazing staff, volunteers and supporters that helped clean up K’gari. 

Article compiled by Sue Sargent, FINIA – the Natural Integrity Alliance for K’gari

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