Toomuc Fire Brigade members were among Cardinia volunteers dispatched to flood affected areas in South Australia to help save at-risk homes last week.
While Toomuc Fire Brigade’s John Ferrari had travelled interstate on many occasions to assist with fires, this job had been the firefighter’s first time responding to a flood emergency.
Mr Ferrari told the Gazette that he received a pager message on Thursday 29 September requesting a tanker strike team to be deployed to South Australia to assist with the sandbagging effort.
His fellow crew members Andrew Ramage and captain Brad Kelly drove the tankers to Adelaide on Friday while John and the rest of his team flew to the scene on Friday afternoon, with operations commencing early Saturday morning.
Based at the South Australian Country Fire Service state training ground in Brukunga, the crew took about one hour and 20 minutes to reach the flood affected zone.
The Toomuc tanker was crewed by two Toomuc members, John Ferrari and Blake Sokaluk, Officer’s Tim Dent and Gembrook’s Steve Marriot.
“There were 14 tankers of four,” Mr Ferrari said.
“We travelled to Two Wells to a staging area and started filling sandbags alongside Army personnel and volunteers.
“On Saturday afternoon we responded to an urgent call to three houses that were about to be inundated with flood water, travelling through flooded roads to get to the flood affected area north of Adelaide between Two Wells and Virginia.
“It’s a flat region consisting mainly of crops, some growing in glass houses.
“We were able to protect the houses but the crops were unable to be saved due to the vast amount of flood water.”
By Sunday morning the sandbag stocks had entirely depleted prompting volunteers to create more.
“We were going through sandbags so quickly,” Mr Ferrari said.
“There must have been thousands.”
The local CFA members were replaced on Sunday night by other crews who continued the flood assistance effort.
Originally published at Pakenham Gazette.