Building Back Better After Floods

The rain that followed Cyclone Jasper in December wreaked havoc for many in Far North Queensland. Daily totals ranged between 100 and 700 mm, and in some locations five-day rainfall totals exceeded 1500 mm. Rodney Ingersoll’s sustainable aquaculture fish farm near Biboohra was devastated by the flooding, but now he’s on a mission to build back better and the local community are giving him a hand.

‘The neighbours had never seen the river burst its banks. Not in my wildest dreams did I expect the water to reach the level it did,’ said Rodney.

His aquaculture farm, Barron River Barramundi, suffered huge losses in December but meeting with him, and his dog Aria, on a sunny afternoon a couple of months later he is already laser-focused on the future.

‘This is going to be a hub for aquaponics, aquaculture and sustainability,’ he said.

Rodney’s vision for the farm includes creating an education centre, building Indigenous partnerships, providing training to the community and schools, while creating local employment. That’s in addition to expanding the commercial fishery and producing aquaponic vegetables and bush foods for market.

‘I’m ready to move forward and showcase what you can do in sustainability. We will be using AgTech, automation and AI — it’s going to be a future farm.’

But while Rodney’s vision for the future is clear, his current focus is recovery from the flooding. ‘It’s been a salvage operation,’ he said. ‘We have even had to put off the family moving up here.’

Over 50,000 barramundi and 70,000 redclaw (freshwater crayfish) were lost in the floods.

‘I’ve had to drain every pond and remove the rubbish — logs, plastic, a lounge chair, even a croc has turned up in one of the ponds.’ ‘It was such a mess with bits of metal and equipment everywhere. My living quarters went under, and I had to live in a tent … even my gas bottles were washed away. I lost personal items, fridges, freezers, vehicles, tanks and harvesting equipment. All the pumps and electrics were inundated, and I’ve collected five ute loads of my equipment from neighbouring properties. I can’t operate as a business at present,’ he explained.

In total, the damage and loss of stock added up to $1.5million. To compound this, Rodney was denied insurance coverage for flooding.

‘My current biggest issues are weeds, they have just taken off since the flooding, equipment loss/failure and not being able to afford labour to help with the clean-up. It seems bad now, but I know I will recover.’

Read the full article in the Gulf Croaker:

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