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Greater extreme weather incidents lead to need for SES facilities expansion at Narrandera Airport

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Expansion of the NSW State Emergency Services at Narrandera Airport in conjunction with the NSW SES is taking place as a result of co-operation between the state body and the Narrandera Shire Council.

As previously announced the Council approved the usage of the southern section of the airport hangar and an allocation of $25,000 from the Infrastructure Replacement and Renewal Reserve for works approved at the Council’s February meeting.

A further $50,000 was endorsed for inclusion in the Council’s upcoming 2024-25 Capital Budget (subject to at least 50 per cent grant funding) for the amenities as part of a long term future financial plan.

SES Southern Zone commander Ben Pickup and Business Services Manager (Suthern Zone) Colleen Taylor said they were expecting operational activities to increase over the longer term with more extreme weather events predicted to impact NSW communities.

They believe that the Narrandera Airport is a key central location and well placed for communication between the command point and the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC).

“Narrandera has a significant flood risk and impact within the Local Government Area, with NSW SES teams and equipment deployed to the community during the major Murrumbidgee flood events in 2010, 2012, 2016 and more recently 2022.

“The NSW SES is currently allocated a room attached to the Emergency Operations Centre which has served as an Incident Control point and meeting place during previous events.

“However a Flood Risk Assessment in January 2022 identified the need to establish a NSW SES unit to meet the increasing demand for storm and flood responses,” they said.

An initial recruitment campaign by the NSW SES Narrandera Unit recruited members of the community and currently has five active members.

The increase in moderate to major flooding in the Narrandera LGA and the expansion of the unit to provide community support highlighted the fact that the unit had outgrown the previous allocated office space at the airport.

An additional temporary response vehicle, permanent storm trailer sandbagging machine and a vessel were allocated to provide additional support and a permanent modern response vehicle has since been allocated to Narrandera.

Most of these assets are stored in Leeton until a suitable facility is identified. The Narrandera Unit requires a storage space to house this response vehicle, dual axle storm trailer, as well as an attached area for members to meet and train, kitchen/kitchenette, access to toilets/shower and an outdoor area to conduct practical training.

The NSW SES will cover basic utilities of gas, electricity and provide contractors to regularly clean the facility and provide yard maintenance outlined in the SES and Narrandera Shire Council partnership agreement.

It agreed that the NSW current SES office remain as the NSW SES Incident Control Centre as it is in a key central location and well placed to ensure effective co-ordination between the command point and the Emergency Operations Centre.

Ms Taylor and Mr Pickup commented that they expected operational activities would increase over the longer term with more extreme weather events predicted to impact NSW communities.

“These events will result in a need to provide increased community preparedness along with responses to incidents within the Narrandera LGA,” they said. 

Narrandera Argus 11 April 2024

This article appeared in the Narrandera Argus, 11 April 2024.

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