The following is a letter I have written to the Premier of NSW, the Member for Clarence, the NSW Police Minister and the NSW Minister for Roads.
For some time I, like others, have been concerned about the number of people who decide to drive or walk through flooded roads, causeways, etc. often in complete and deliberate disregard to ‘road closed’ signs. When these people get stranded they then expect someone to rescue them, often putting in danger the lives of the rescuers, many of whom are police, fire-fighters, and often volunteers like the SES.
I would have thought there has been enough warnings about the dangers of this activity on television and through news programmes and newspapers but apparently not.
I have been staggered at the number of people during this very recent cyclone, storm and flooding events who have ignored all warnings. There are also those who ignore evacuation orders and, despite requests for sightseers to stay out of the Lismore CBD, I saw on TV news so many people ignoring the requests and roaming the streets of Lismore that hadn’t at that stage been flooded, just watching to see how fast the water rises. Some were still driving cars, boats and bikes through the waters.
I am thoroughly convinced the only way to perhaps prevent all these foolish actions is to instigate fines on the perpetrators. I don’t mean a mild slap on the wrist of a small cash amount, I mean starting at $1000 or even more. Added to this, if a vehicle is involved, the vehicle could impounded and demerit points applied. Community service orders could also be issued to help clean up after the events. Could ‘naming and shaming’ be a deterrent?
TV, radio and newspaper advertisements should also be considered to inform of the penalties involved. How about a video type advert depicting the aftermath of a death incurred during a rescue showing the effects on family, community groups and volunteers.
I would love to be able to join some organisation involved at these times, but my age, health and physical disabilities would not allow me to do so.