SES and flood review group now 'as one'
IT WAS a meeting of the minds and hearts in wanting the best for the Lismore community when senior members of the State Emergency Services met with the Lismore Citizens Flood Review Group on Monday.
Citizens group members including Beth Trevan, Tony Madden and Keith Alcock met with SES Commissioner Mark Smethurst and newly-appointed Richmond-Tweed regional controller Mark Somers, along with other staff at the organisation's Lismore office, to discuss issues surrounding the March 31 flood.
Mr Somers said he felt the group was very similar to the SES, as it wanted the best for the town and its people.
"They are a group of people as dedicated to the community as the SES,” he said.
"We share the same philosophy.”
Mrs Trevan said the face-to-face meeting meant members could raise issues which the committee believed needed to be brought to the attention of the SES.
"It was very comforting to have the opportunity to meet with the Commissioner and the new regional controller and to hear first-hand their plans for the future,” she said.
"It was a really positive, open (and) honest discussion.”
Commissioner Smethurst said the meeting was positive with people being able to speak frankly and have their concerns heard.
"This was a very positive and productive meeting and got a lot of things on the table,” he said.
"We spoke about how we reach out to the community.”
The commissioner said he believed Mr Somers would do an excellent job working with SES staff, volunteers and the community in ensuring everyone moved forward in a positive and unified manner.
"Mark Somers is really well positioned to link with the (citizens group) team, to reach out to bring the broader things we are doing across the state to benefit Lismore,” he said.
Mr Alcock said he was pleased with the progress the two groups had made in such a short time.
Mr Madden said being able to talk about sensitive issues with the SES was great.
"I did not feel anything was declared off-limits, including giving the SES feedback,” he said.
"I think we are as one in some of the ways the SES wants to reintroduce the warden system and get information from experienced people on how things can be done better in future.”
Mrs Trevan said the chance to meet and talk with the commissioner and Mr Somers was reassuring.
"Mark has a huge job in front of him and I'm sure he's up to the task, he comes so highly recommended,” she said.
"We really look forward to working with him in the future.”
Commissioner Smethurst said he believed the skills and expedience of the citizens group would benefit the SES and vice-versa.
"What is important is now how do we reach out to the community and the team here can really help us do that,” he said.
"We spent a lot of time today talking about what we need to get right and working collectively together we will get the outcomes we need when this happens next time.”