North Queensland might still be shivering through winter but Townsville City Council has starting to get ready for summer and the region’s traditional wet season.

Council crews were this week joined by State Emergency Service and Disaster Relief Australia volunteers and Australian Army personnel for an exercise involving the two automatic sand bagging machines purchased by Council last year.

Townsville Mayor and Local Disaster Management Group chairperson Jenny Hill said it was never too early to start preparing for the wet season and the natural disasters that might impact the region.

“It’s approaching mid-August and the start of the traditional wet season in Townsville is only a couple of months away so it’s time to start getting ready,” Cr Hill said.

“The goal of this week’s exercise was to refresh everyone’s knowledge of and experience with the sand bagging machines and to practice working together in case we need to roll the machines out this coming wet season.

“We also wanted to practice redeploying the machine to another location.”

The sand bagging machines will play an important role in preparing Townsville for a flooding event. They can fill 700–1000 sand bags an hour, which is much faster than filling them by hand. The machines are mobile so Council can move them across the city as required.

The Queensland Government provided $50,000 funding through its Get Ready Queensland program to purchase the machines, with Council also contributing towards the cost.

State funding has also been received to purchase a conveyor belt for the machines to help move sand that may be dumped by large trucks.

Cr Hill said now was the time for the community to start planning for the wet season.

“In the coming weeks the community will see Council ramp up messaging around getting ready for the wet season and possible natural disasters,” she said.

“After being cancelled in 2020 because of the COVID pandemic, Council is also planning to once again host a Disaster Ready Day on November 7 as a way to inform and educate the community about the importance of preparing for disasters.”