NSW State Emergency Service (SES) logo.
NSW State Emergency Service (SES) logo.

Clarence SES explains response to recent floods

NSW State Emergency Service have explained their incident command procedures following recent criticism.

Last week Clarence Valley Council passed a motion calling on resources and flood management to return to the Clarence after meeting with local volunteers.

The volunteers raised concerns over emergency management procedures following flooding events in February.

NSW SES responded with a statement outlining why the flood was managed from outside the Clarence.

A spokesperson said decisions on the location of incident command functions are made on the basis of the scale of the event, the availability of resources and "a number of other operational considerations".

"Due to the size and potential impact of the recent event, the NSW SES decided to set up our

level 3 Incident Command Centre structure in Lismore," the spokesperson said.

"The flood desk, logistics and planning cells were managed through Goonellabah, and these two locations were used to co-ordinate response for the whole northern region, using the most up to date information and local knowledge, and working closely with our teams on the


Some councillors were scathing in their assessment of the emergency organisation's handling of the floods and Mayor Jim Simmons said it raised "unacceptable risks" for the community.

Councillor Richie Williamson went further and said the SES, as an organisation, was "not up to the task".

One concern raised by volunteers was an incident controller based in Lismore gave out "sketchy" information during a radio interview.

While the SES would not address the specific concerns raised in the mayoral minute, they said the organisation's restructure, which occurred in 2018 "had no impact on the office, or the staff located in the office."

"The Clarence Nambucca Unit was allocated response activities based on their availability and the requests for assistance," the spokesperson said.

"Incident control support was available to them through the incident command centre in Lismore.

"The NSW SES is proud of the exceptional efforts of its South Grafton-based

members during the recent floods who provided invaluable expertise and local


The Minister for Emergency Services has been contacted for comment.