Airmen fly to the rescue

Helping homeowners stranded in mid-west New South Wales was a rewarding experience for two Air Force Airmen during Operation Flood Assist 22-2.

Deployed to Forbes, NSW, the airmen worked with volunteers from the State Emergency Service (SES) after record flooding.

Chief Airman Kade Kennaway and Chief Airwoman Anya Morris, from RAAF Base Townsville, flew by helicopter to a property 30km west of Forbes which remained surrounded by water after three weeks .

Once there, the two men helped unload sandbags delivered by helicopter and used them to plug a hole in a burst dike.

Leading Aircraftman Kennaway said it was hard work, but very rewarding.

“We spent most of the day putting sandbags on the seawall or waiting for helicopters to come in with big loads of extra sandbags,” Chief Airman Kennaway said.

“We also helped dig out a tractor that got stuck during the day.

“I didn’t know what to expect, but as soon as we arrived we all worked together to make a big difference. They were so grateful that we were there and we were grateful to be able to help.

Recent flooding has blocked all road access around the property owned by Stephen and Margaret.

“I was stuck in Orange for three weeks before the SES could get me home,” Margaret said.

“And even now, it still looks like three weeks before we can leave.

“Our neighbors have to bring the groceries by small boat because there is no other way to get through.”

Margaret said ADF’s help had been vital.

“If they hadn’t been there, the water would be waist deep and only go higher and higher,” she said.

Airwoman Chief Morris said deployments like Flood Assist were the reason she joined the Air Force.

“I want to help those who are in trouble, and it’s amazing to do that in my own backyard,” Chief Airwoman Morris said.

“As soon as the call went out for Flood Assist, I volunteered.

“I’ll raise my hand for any further help – I’ll be there for those in need.”

Airman Kennaway and Chief Airwoman Morris watch as a NSW Rural Fire Service helicopter delivers sandbags to Stephen and Margaret’s residence, to help hold back a burst water dike on their property. Photo: Corporal David Cotton

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