AERIAL VIEW: Satellite image of the quarry dam in Talgai.
AERIAL VIEW: Satellite image of the quarry dam in Talgai.

Residents panicked, angry over ‘unnecessary’ warnings

A TEXT message urging 5000 people to seek higher ground in the wake of the Talgai dam crisis created unnecessary panic, according to Clifton resident David Robertson.

Mr Robertson was about to go to sleep when an automatic message alerted him to "take action to protect life".

"I was concerned, wondering what I was going to do," he said.

"All it said was to move to higher ground, but where do you go in Clifton? Where was the water coming from? There aren't any major dams here.

"A lot of people were really worried because they have disabilities, or they have pets, and it's hard for them to get out."

A sleepy google search revealed the text message referenced the private Bolzan Quarry dam in Talgai, almost 13km away.

"I laughed when I saw it," he said.

"It's a duck pond, it's a joke.

"Then I got a bit pissed off, because people were becoming alarmed for no real reason."

According to a spokeswoman from the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, the automated message was drafted by the Local Disaster Management Group and then a request was sent to QFES through council.

"Council works with QFES to determine the area and the amount of people it goes to," the spokeswoman said.

Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie said message recipients were determined by a polygon, drawn up by QFES, that showed where the anticipated flood event would occur should the dam burst.

"They send all the landlines within the polygon area a message and they do something similar with mobile phones," Cr Dobie said.

"I'm not sure how the mobile phones work but it's an automated message based on the towers in the vicinity."

The mayor said while it was a concern that so many people unaffected by the disaster were contacted, it was better than the alternative.

"The advice messaging system only came in a couple of years ago and before that we never had the ability to get information through to people.

"This allows us to give as much warning to as many people as we can, bearing in mind technology can be limiting factor.

"We have to do something to alert people."

Mr Robertson, who works within the safety industry, said it was bizarre.

"I'm always concerned about safety, it's my profession," he said.

"But this is just ridiculous, it's almost obscene."