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Inmates to fill sandbags for flood-affected residents

Blacktown City Council has unveiled its new sandbagging machine, providing a helping hand for residents during flooding emergencies.

The machine will be used in partnership with local NSW SES units and Parklea Correctional Centre, with the jail providing the manpower to produce sandbags for NSW SES volunteers in times of need.

The $90,000 machine can produce up to 750 sandbags an hour and will greatly expedite the usually labour-intensive process.

The machine will help Council and the NSW SES best prepare for future flooding events, with sandbags to be produced 2 to 3 days in advance of major forecasted rainfall.

Blacktown City Mayor Tony Bleasdale OAM said the sandbagging machine was a vital resource for Blacktown City following several years of major flooding events.

“Our City has been greatly impacted by flooding disasters in recent years, so it is essential our local NSW SES units have the equipment they need to minimise the impacts of flooding on residents and their properties,” Mayor Bleasdale said.

“Last year, Council determined to acquire a machine that would enable us to speed up the generally slow and arduous process of producing sandbags.

“During previous flooding events, Council has supplied sand to Blacktown and Mount Druitt SES for volunteers to manually prepare sandbags.

“This new machine will not only make this process faster, it will also make it safer for volunteers, and due to the mobility of the machine, it can easily be towed to where it is needed.

“I thank the NSW SES for their input and Parklea Correctional Centre for their ongoing support.”

NSW SES Local Commander Alan Rollinson said the new machine will be an asset for the community, following a year of record rain and devastating floods, which saw the agency receive nearly 27,000 requests for assistance.

“In the past six months, more than two million sandbags have been issued to residents across the state. It is a community effort to build resilience against storm and flood emergencies, so this machine is crucial in empowering people to protect their homes and livelihoods,” Mr Rollinson said.

Parklea Correctional Centre Acting Governor Brian Gurney said the prison had worked with the Council on several projects and the sandbag initiative was another way to help the community.

“A key priority for us at Parklea is reducing reoffending and projects such as these enable inmates to give back to the community and they enjoy helping out where they can,” Mr Gurney said.

“It also provides them with meaningful work and gives them a sense of pride that they have been able to make a contribution, particularly in times of natural disasters, such as floods.”