Macksville residents say SES Flood Forum future-proofing plans fall short

Belynda and Alan Pickvance at the SES Flood Forum meeting in May 2021.


FOLLOWING up on the community SES Flood Forums held in Macksville in May, June and July 2021, Steve Lawrence, the SES Community Capability Officer for the Mid North Coast NSW Emergency Service – Northern Zone, has provided information on the actions and plans made.

NSW SES has secured $50,000 in grant funding through its principle corporate partner NRMA Insurance to fund two specific projects over 18 locations including Bowraville, Kings Point, Scotts Head, Kempsey CBD, Stuarts Point, Smithtown, Northside, Settlement Point, Telegraph Point, Wauchope, Pappinbarra, Dunbogan, Croki, Taree CBD, Manning Point, Wingham Peninsular, Dumaresq Island and Taree Estate.

  • Project 1 – Sandbagging equipment cases.

NSW SES will provide to high-risk communities the opportunity to have two pre-deployed equipment cases that will contain the following: 150 sandbags, Retractable long hand shovels, Role of builder’s plastic, two roles of duct tape, two utility knives, First Aid Kit, Protective equipment (safe vests, goggles, gloves).

These cases are to be either stored in the community locations or sent out to high-risk communities on the Bureau of Meteorology issuing a Flood Watch for riverine flooding.

Equipment in cases will be used with pre planned dumps of sand.

NSW SES will seek to develop a flood warden system in each location to manage the use of the equipment cases and sand dumps, liaise with the SES and pass on flood warning information to their community.


  • Project 2 – Flood Information packs.

Development and distribution of flood risk and preparedness information to 8,414 flood affected properties across Mid North Coast.

Hard copy flood information including flood education brochure, flood risk map, together with storm preparation advice will be available to the community.


However, members of the Macksville community are saying the offering is falling short of what the region requires.

News Of The Area spoke with flooded-out Macksville resident Alan Pickvance, who has lived in the town for 56 years.

“Not a lot is it?” questions Alan Pickvance rhetorically.

“First, they need a central point on high ground for the equipment cases.

“Last time we had to get supplies from the SES location, two kilometers out of town near the Shire Council offices.

“Secondly, the SMS messages we got were too late, and some people didn’t even get them.

“They are talking about building the SES profile on social media – they need to push for volunteers here.

“I’m pretty sure NBN would give free ads to the SES to drum up volunteers.

“We definitely need more bodies and more resources.

“There’s about eight-to-ten active SES members here and I’ve heard that none of the SES members involved in the March flood held a boat licence so they couldn’t use their SES boat.

“The Macksville SES needs up-resourcing and up-skilling.

“In the SES Forum report there’s mention of Kings Point but no mention of the Partridge Street side of town…there’s no mention of Macksville nor Nambucca.”

Alan, his wife Belynda and their kids’ experience of the March 2021 flood was standing in flood water in drizzling rain for two-and-a-half hours waiting to be rescued.

“I ended up walking back to our house chest-deep in flood water to get our boat because nobody came for us.”

In the May Flood Forum, community members talked about the inadequate drains, and lack of an effective drainage system.

“What drains?” said Alan.

“Don’t get me started on the drains – Council knows it will cost more than they’re prepared to spend to fix Macksville drains.”




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