State of emergency: Towns left without volunteer army
THE orange volunteer army has been temporarily disbanded in Midge Point and Koumala, as a lack of State Emergency Service volunteers leave residents exposed.
Mackay SES acting local co-ordinator Alex McPhee said there were no members in the two towns, and only two volunteers in Campwin Beach.
The lack of volunteers would cause delays in the event of an emergency, Mr McPhee said.
While back-up crews from Sarina and Mackay could be deployed, it could take hours before help was available, he said.
Particularly with storm damage, Mr McPhee said problems "might not be fixed this hour, but it will be fixed that day".
With no volunteers to drive or maintain them, Koumala and Midge Point have lost their three trailers and two vehicles, which are now in Sarina.
Campwin Beach's vehicle was being used by a Mackay group, Mackay Regional Council documents reported.
Mr McPhee said the equipment and vehicles would return to groups "as they come back online".
"We're trying to get things moving again," he said.
Coronavirus had limited active recruitment, advertising and council co-ordinated campaigns in the towns, Mr McPhee said.
"We're looking for the right people at the right positions," he said.
"There's a lot of word of mouth coming from local members.
"Inquiries are starting to come in but it's slow.
"I assume there's a lot of people out there who want to join but can't."
The Community and Client Services Monthly Review said SES units spent 98 hours in operation last month, responding to storm damage and helping search for missing people.
Volunteers also spent 312 hours in training, the report said.
But Campwin Beach, Koumala and Midge Point were unable to train in town due to their low numbers, the report said.
Any training sessions would be held in Sarina with other SES units, Mr McPhee said.
"It's a social event as well as a training event," he said.
Mr McPhee said problems with low membership were not unique to Mackay.
"It's happening all across Queensland," he said.
Across the region there were signs of hope, with a few dozen applications awaiting approval since March, he said.