HELPING HAND: Team Rubicon Australia volunteers Anjelica Karagiannis and Robert Bazzard preparing the chainsaws for operation.
HELPING HAND: Team Rubicon Australia volunteers Anjelica Karagiannis and Robert Bazzard preparing the chainsaws for operation.

Military veterans in the region for major clean-up operation

MILITARY veterans are leading a volunteer disaster response team to help clear fire damage at Deepwater and Baffle Creek.

Volunteers from Team Rubicon Australia started work on the ground yesterday.

A Team Rubicon spokesperson said as of December 5, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services and Queensland Reconstruction Authority carried out 453 damage assessments.

They found damage to 15 homes with 12 severely affected, as well as damage to more than 60 sheds or structures and more than 20 vehicles or items of machinery.

Media officer Michelle Richards said Operation McLeod, named after Gladstone's decorated World War I hero Roderick George McLeod, had so far deployed 21 volunteers.

Ms Richards said strike teams received 49 work orders and had started work.

"Potential recovery efforts include debris removal, chainsaw operations and, as required, clean-up efforts to assist affected communities in coordination with local and state authorities," Ms Richards said.

"The extent of the bushfire damage includes dwellings destroyed, with many others experiencing damage including sheds and other buildings, equipment has been damaged or destroyed, fences have been compromised, affecting the ability to manage stock safely."

Team Rubicon is working with Gladstone Regional Council.

Acting mayor Rick Hansen said this was the first time the council had collaborated with the organisation.

"This is the first fire of this magnitude that has ever affected our area.

"And the people of Baffle Creek have been through two major floods in the last five years and now this - it becomes a little bit overbearing," Mr Hansen said.

"People like this coming in and being able to help the community clean up, it's just a massive, massive plus.

"We heard about Rubicon, they made themselves available and we said 'Yes please' ... they're doing a marvellous job. I haven't been down there yet to see them but I will."

Ms Richards said as military veterans, Team Rubicon volunteers had the necessary skills and experience "to respond safely, rapidly and effectively in the wake of disasters".

"By enabling continued service after taking off the uniform, Team Rubicon allows veterans the opportunity to re-purpose and utilise their skills again," Ms Richards said.

"This provides a sense of purpose and instils within them a feeling of identity."

Operation McLeod will run until January 12 and is backed by an ongoing fundraising effort.

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