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SCOTT BEVAN, PRESENTER: Well, the response to this flood crisis has been underpinned by the largest
military deployment for a natural disaster since Cyclone Tracy.

What's known as joint task force Operation Queensland Flood Assist is helping with the recovery.
Heading this team of army, navy and Air Force members is Brigadier Paul McLachlan.

Kathy McLeish joined him on a flight to flood-affected areas today and filed this report.

KATHY MCLEISH, REPORTER: Just eight days ago Operation Queensland Flood Assist comprised 223
personnel.

Just over a week later Brigadier Paul McLachlan, the commander of the joint military task force, is
in command of 1900 troops. It's one of the largest deployments ever mounted for an Australian
disaster.

BRIGADIER PAUL MCLACHLAN, COMMANDER, OPERATION FLOOD ASSIST: It's shocking to see the damage that's
actually occurred.

On this flight in a navy Sea King helicopter, he's flying over flood-devastated parts of Central
Queensland, travelling to Condamine, where soldiers and equipment arrived yesterday.

PAUL MCLACHLAN: Condamine's a bit of a tough story and they're a fantastic community out there.
There's no doubt about it.

Flooded already once this time and then two days after cleaning up, down they went again. So we
sent about 60 people in from the second 14th light horse regiment, cavalry organisation from out of
Enoggera here.

(To soldier) Is there any structural problems?

SOLDIER: I'd say so by the look of it. The water's run straight underneath.

I guess the engineers will tell.

PAUL MCLACHLAN: That's probably about right. Which one's ours?

SOLDIER: This one here.

PAUL MCLACHLAN: Okay, where the red car is?

SOLDIER: Yep. We've got about 20 blokes in there. She had furniture that was 40 years old.

PAUL MCLACHLAN: And it's all totalled, then?

KATHY MCLEISH: Soldiers are cleaning mud and debris from Ranald and Margaret Twidale's home. They
can certainly use the help.

MARGARET TWIDALE, CONDAMINE RESIDENT: Hard to look at it and think, "What am I going to do with
it?" but...

RANALD TWIDALE, CONDAMINE RESIDENT: Absolutely wonderful. It's a great gesture.

KATHY MCLEISH: It's the second time their home's been flooded in three weeks and it's taking a
heavy toll.

(to Ranald Twidale) How do you keep going?

RANALD TWIDALE: Well, you just don't look over your shoulder, keep... (chokes up)

KATHY MCLEISH: Major transport links have been cut throughout the region and that's having a
flow-on effect.

CONDAMINE RESIDENT (speaking to Army and police officers): We've got a rural industry and an energy
sector that can't move at the moment. We need dollars through businesses to keep the economy going.

KATHY MCLEISH: The joint Army, Navy and Air Force effort is supporting local authorities, providing
helicopters, Hercules, heavy transport, mine sweepers to clear shipping channels.

PAUL MCLACHLAN: We're working closely with the State coordination centres. They're setting our
priorities and we're falling in and helping the people that are already on the ground from the
State authorities.

KATHY MCLEISH: Brigadier McLachlan says the response from the troops has been heartfelt.

PAUL MCLACHLAN: G'day boys! How are ya? Good to see you, mate. What happened to you blokes? Did you
get recalled?

SOLDIER: Yes, recalled from leave but most of us anyway when we're on leave we're either in
Brisbane helping out friends or just going down around the streets and helping.

KATHY MCLEISH: Some of the units deployed through the State have recently returned from
Afghanistan.

PAUL MCLACHLAN: Some of the units were recalled. Initially we tried to leave the guys that had been
over home with their families and most of them had put up their hand and almost demanded to come
in. So there's quite a few people who are only recently returned from Afghanistan out helping the
people of Queensland.

KATHY MCLEISH: Brigadier McLachlan says the troops may be trained for battle but they've been moved
by the devastation in Lockyer Valley. On this flight he's taking in an aerial view of the town of
Grantham.

PAUL MCLACHLAN: You've just got to have a look at the footage of Grantham as we flew over there.
And that's- that is a real disaster spot. There's absolutely no doubt about it.

You know, it's in our country and it's sort of 25 minutes by helicopter from this base. This one's
hitting hard for all us, you know. Most of us are local and it's having a big effect.

KATHY MCLEISH: Troops are deployed there, assisting with search and rescue, accommodation, clean-up
and recovery.

PAUL MCLACHLAN: We've had about 230 people there for a while assisting the Queensland police with
the search task but because we've established a bit of a relationship with the township, we're
going to transition those guys that are in there at the moment over into the recovery role to help
the local community clean up.

You see the footage and yeah, it is a big mess.

KATHY MCLEISH: As the joint task force is scaled back, specialist personnel will be left in place,
including engineers experienced in rebuilding devastated infrastructure and psychologists who
usually work with soldiers affected by war zones.

PAUL MCLACHLAN: While we're needed and while we're responding to the emergency and helping vital
tasks during the recovery, we'll stay out.

It's shocking to see the damage that's actually occurred. The thing that I'm really taking way from
it is the cooperative spirit between every single agency just to get the stuff done. Everyone's
putting their egos in their pockets. Everybody's looking at what needs to be done for the people
that have been affected by this tragedy and they're at the forefront of everybody's mind.

SCOTT BEVAN: That report from Kathy McLeish.