A flood levee protects houses on the corner of Ellis and Rodboro streets in Berserker, on Rockhampton's north side, Wednesday, April 5, 2017. Floodwaters resulting from ex-cyclone Debbie are expected inundate parts of Rockhampton with the Fitzroy River expected to reach 9 metres on Thursday. (AAP Image/Dan Peled) NO ARCHIVING
A flood levee protects houses on the corner of Ellis and Rodboro streets in Berserker, on Rockhampton's north side, Wednesday, April 5, 2017. Floodwaters resulting from ex-cyclone Debbie are expected inundate parts of Rockhampton with the Fitzroy River expected to reach 9 metres on Thursday. (AAP Image/Dan Peled) NO ARCHIVING DAN PELED

OPINION: Rocky leaders fuelled the flood hysteria

SO OUR widely predicted 99 year record flood didn't eventuate. What a farce?

All the so-called experts have got it very wrong again, but they will still have their jobs on their over-inflated salaries.

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Flood mitigation: Cr Tony Williams speaking about flood mitigation at North Rockhampton.
Flood mitigation: Cr Tony Williams speaking about flood mitigation at North Rockhampton.

All the while, the rural families at the top of the Fitzroy catchment have in some cases lost almost everything.

The misleading and irresponsible commentary by our regional community leaders was breath-taking.

The sensationalist reporting by local media added to the confusion and concern that has characterised this average Rockhampton flood.

These same people now try to blame the southern media for that confusion and misinformation.

We were told at one stage that three of the five major rivers that flow into the Fitzroy were in major flood. That was totally wrong.

Graziers that live and operate their businesses around the headwaters of the Comet, the Nogoa and the Dawson rivers actually received very little rain.

There were massive 24 hour falls of rain on one river system (over a metre in some places at the top of the Connors river), which raced down into the lower Isaacs river and then the lower Mackenzie, before heading down the Fitzroy.

This water did back up the lower Dawson to cut the Capricorn Highway.

The North Rockhampton flood mitigation plan
The North Rockhampton flood mitigation plan

Had there been heavy rain in the other major rivers, then Rockhampton would have had a real flood.

Instead of speculating about possible record floods, surely it might have been sensible to speak to some of the rural families who live on the river system at strategic places.

There are individuals who have lived for over 60 years on the river who keep meticulous records, and can predict with extraordinary accuracy the height coming towards their place, and consequently provide a very close estimate of the level that would be reached in Rockhampton.

By the way, I haven't heard any of the experts voice their concern that three of the critical river height recording stations went off the air quite early in the event.

Instead, our disaster committee coordinator is talking about an electronic device for Rockhampton, so they don't have to go down to check the current gauge.

Unfortunately, I, and these other landowners don't have any letters after our names, so we are not regarded as having any real knowledge.

In fact on one media outlet the community was instructed to listen to the "experts", and on no account should they listen to those individuals who think they know.

How wrong that proved to be.

So we got phone calls from friends and relatives down south and overseas, wanting to know if we were in danger and was Rockhampton being washed away.

And now the solution is a levee bank around the low part of town, not the airport.

There must be some clever engineers who can design such a structure on a bed of sand and river silt that has been deposited for centuries across the flood plain.

The political stunt to highlight this idea last week was a poor attempt to distract people from the disgraceful management of the situation over the last two weeks and to quell the rightfully growing anger at the impact on local businesses.

I even heard on radio on Monday, April 10, that if the Gap Dam were built, it would flood proof Rockhampton.

I suggest that it could be informative to ask some of the residents of Emerald if they would agree.

Prior to the last big flood in their town, the Fairbairn Dam was around 13 per cent full.

Within about 60 hours, it was flowing more than two metres over the spill-way, and at very high levels through the town.

When are these people going to be held to account?

I would encourage the small businesses in town to consider legal action against the authorities.

This is because of the financial impact on their future and the reputation of our city and surrounding communities.

It is time that people at all levels of society took responsibility for their actions instead of continually passing the buck.

Larry Acton