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Surf Life Saving NSW would like to extend its sincere thanks to volunteer surf lifesavers who stepped up to assist with flood rescue and relief efforts in the Hunter region.

All weekend and into Monday, volunteers from a number of Surf Life Saving Clubs in the Hunter Branch assisted NSW SES as flood waters continued to rise.

Duty Officers from the Hunter SLS Branch were embedded in the Incident Control Centres as Liaison Officers to help resource and direct Surf Life Saving assets including drones (UAVs) and Inflatable Rescue Boats (IRBs).

Two UAV teams from the Australian UAV Service conducted aerial surveillance, providing vital information to the SES to assist in their response to the rapidly rising flood waters in Singleton. For the first time, the drone vision was ‘livestreamed’ directly back to the big screens in the SLSNSW State Operations Centre.

Two IRB crews from Nobbys SLSC in Newcastle have also been assisting in the Singleton area, along with a crew from Stockton SLSC who are on standby in the Maitland/Raymond Terrace area. Cooks Hills SLSC also deployed a team of volunteers to Maitland and Redhead SLSC had an IRB crew conducting ferry transfers in Maitland and Lambs Creek.

At present, flood operations are continuing with an IRB crew at Rose Point Park ferrying school children as water slowly recedes in the area.

SLSNSW CEO Steve Pearce was glowing in his praise for those volunteers who responded with speed and self-assurance in particularly tricky conditions.

“I can’t thank our volunteers enough for answering the call to assist, bringing their skills and experience to an extremely challenging situation,” he said.

“We knew from experience that we have an incredibly generous membership who are willing to step up when disaster strikes, and once again we have been overwhelmed by the reaction of our volunteer lifesavers.”

The capability and agility of the UAVs, too, proved to be a major asset for incident commanders, providing critical, real-time information and situational awareness.

“We can deploy our UAV operators quickly and with minimal equipment and setup, they can be feeding back a very clear picture of the situation in no time,” said SLSNSW CEO Steve Pearce.

“For the first time in an emergency incident, we have been able to link the camera feed directly back to our State Operations Centre in Sydney, where our Duty Officers can see exactly what the drone pilot is seeing, which is incredible.”

While the wild weather is expected to ease across NSW as the week goes on, volunteer callout teams and Surf Life Saving assets will remain on standby to respond if requested.

Tuesday 30 November 2021