After flash flooding hit Toowoomba and several other townships in the Lockyer Valley in Queensland yesterday, claiming eight lives, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has told the nation that in certain circumstances, technology can still be trumped by the savage forces of nature.
Gillard addressed the nation from Parliament House in Canberra and told assembled journalists that Queensland emergency services had deployed the SMS warning system developed after the Black Saturday fires in Victoria to evacuate residents in affected areas.
"The emergency SMS system has been used in parts of Queensland, so something that was learned through the devastation in Victoria with the bushfires is available and can be used in other disaster circumstances," Gillard said.
She warned, however, that nature is a serious force to be reckoned with, despite sophisticated technology in the hands of governments and citizens.
"We live in a world with more technology than we've ever had before, with resources available to us that were unavailable to previous generations, but the power of nature can still be a truly frightening power and we've seen that on display in this country through fire and we're now seeing it through flood."
A Bureau of Meteorology spokesperson told the media this morning in Queensland that it didn't have the ability to track extreme weather in minute detail. Gillard this afternoon promised that a review of forecasting and early warning technology would take place in the future, but now is not the time.
"I have seen experts from the weather bureau in Brisbane, talking about the limits to their ability to track these extreme weather events in individual localities," Gillard said.
"In the days to come, I'm sure there will be a review of weather warnings and the like but right now in the midst of this emergency, our thoughts are on dealing with that emergency," the Prime Minister added.
In 2009, the Victorian Government committed $15 million into a project that saw Telstra construct a phone-based warning system, designed to alert residents to life-threatening emergencies and natural disasters.
The system issues recorded voice or text messages to fixed and mobile phones to apprise residents of fire situations, and if required, provide evacuation information.
The system came as a result of the devastating Black Saturday firestorm in the same year that claimed 173 lives.