The operators of a dam that let out automatic releases, flooding properties during Cyclone Marcia, will be scrutinised by a Queensland government-ordered probe.
A two-metre-high wall of water broke the banks of Callide Creek and swept through Biloela, Jambin and Goovigen in central Queensland after the cyclone made landfall as a category five system.
The floodwaters destroyed homes and businesses, killed livestock and flattened crops – leaving locals questioning why water was not released prior to the disaster.
Many are also concerned about the lack of warning before evacuations became necessary late at night on February 20.
The terms of reference of a review by the Inspector General of Emergency Management Iain MacKenzie on Monday confirmed the dam’s operators will be placed under the spotlight.
Mr MacKenzie will examine the lead-up to the event, including the impact on the community of Callide Creek.
He will consider whether recommendations from the report on the Review of Callide Dam Gate Operations in the January 2013 Flood Event were implemented, and altered the impact to the community.
Mr MacKenzie, who will take public submissions, has also been asked to look at whether the operating specifications of the Callide Dam at the time of the event were reasonable.
The Inspector-General will travel to the Callide Valley this week.
The scope of the probe extends to “the performance of critical telecommunications infrastructure in the event,” after Biloela suffered major glitches and was left cut-off in the cyclone’s aftermath.
Banana Shire Mayor Ron Carige was furious the local disaster co-ordination centre could not communicate with authorities in Brisbane due to phone and internet issues.
Telstra eventually had to fly in a generator to get a critical part of its network up and running.
Callide Dam’s operator Sunwater has previously defended its actions during the cyclone, saying it was a “one-in-a-10,000-year flood event.”
Sunwater says extensive community consultation would have been required before any precautionary releases were made and the site was difficult to access in the cyclonic conditions.
The review’s report is due by May 22.