Disaster in their hands

Fox Rogers hands over the reins to Carl Billingham with Special Operations Brisbane station officer Trevor Butterfield, left, and Noosa Fire Station officer Rob Frey, right.

Through floods, fires, cyclones and even oil spills – Noosa Council’s Alan ‘Fox’ Rogers has been a trusted voice during some of the region’s worst disasters.

“I took on responsibility for disaster management in Noosa in 2004,” Mr Rogers said.

“My predecessor told me he hadn’t had to coordinate a major response to a disaster for nearly eight years, so I thought it sounded like a pretty cruisy role,” he said.

The unpredictable nature of disasters soon proved his assumption wrong.

“The August floods of 2007 was my first real wake up call,” Mr Rogers said.

“We had more than 900 millimetres of rain fall in the upper reaches of the Noosa River, resulting in floodwaters raging through the Boreen Point Camping Ground in the middle of the night– it was an experience I won’t forget.”

He recalls the 2009 oil spill that affected most of southeast Queensland’s coastline, the 2011 and 2012 floods, and Cyclone Oswald in 2013 as milestone events, followed by setting up the new Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG) after Noosa Council’s de-amalgamation.

“The Local Disaster Coordinator role is a challenging one. You have to put the community and their safety first, as well as trying to make sense of often conflicting information and planning 24 to 48 hours ahead,” Mr Rogers said.

“The other major component of the job is to ensure there is good communication with the public to let them know what is going on, and also between the emergency agencies themselves.”

Asked what he had learnt over the past 14 years in disaster management, Fox replied, “I have gained a huge amount of respect for the Emergency Services and those people who are out there on the front line putting others first in times of crisis to make sure the community is safe.”

“They do a fantastic job and we can all make it easier for them if we have a simple emergency plan – and that applies not just to individuals but families, community organisations and businesses too.”

Ahead of retiring from Noosa Council in December, Mr Rogers ran his final LDMG Disaster Preparedness Exercise last week and formally handed the LDMG Coordinator role over to Noosa Council’s Director Infrastructure Services, Carl Billingham.

“While Fox’s predecessor may have set him up with a false sense of security, Fox has already passed on some pearls of wisdom – namely ‘Stay Calm and Carry On’,” Carl Billingham said.

 

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