WHEN the region's gas crisis hit the city on November 2, emergency services braced themselves for the worst.
Initial conversations with engineers suggested the best-case scenario for re-connection to gas was six weeks, but even then that date was optimistic.
Adding to the crisis was an impending cold snap, with snow forecast in the region, followed by the the fourth major flood event in Bathurst.
The situation for emergency responders was clearly dire.
But despite the odds, a united front led by Chifley Police District and supported by the State Emergency Service (SES), Rural Fire Service (RFS), local councils, APA , Jemena and other key stakeholders, has seen what would have been considered the impossible on November 2, become possible.
All 20,000 affected homes across Bathurst, Oberon, Lithgow and Wallerawang were re-connected by Sunday, November 20, just 18 days after the outage began.
Superintendent Bob Noble, said to have the situation rectified in two-and-a-half weeks was an extraordinary result.
At the head of the response was Chifley Police's Chief Inspector Glenn Cogdell, who Supt Noble said was outstanding representing police as the lead agency in the crisis.
"Glenn did a phenomenal job," he said.
- Early signs positive for Bathurst hockey fields after flood waters reach venue
- Macquarie River level continues to drop following major flooding
- Update on which Bathurst roads are closed following major flooding
- 'We're very fortunate': Bathurst escapes major damage during floods
- A recap on a flood-ravaged day for Bathurst
"He worked night and day from the first Thursday (November 3) when he activated the Emergency Operations Centre to active status.
"It was open and full of all the respective agencies from the next morning."
Supt Noble said the interesting part of this emergency, from a legislative point of view, was that under the state Emergency and Rescue Management Act most types of emergencies are legislated with a combat agency.
"Floods are obviously SES, fire are firies, but any that aren't legislated with a provider under the act fall under NSW Police," he said.
"So the responsibility as the combat agency, even though we are not gas fitters, it was police responsibility to resolve the issue.
ALSO MAKING NEWS:
"So Glenn obviously brought in functional areas and support; normal emergency management including the other emergency service organisations."
He said council were a big and central figure in the emergency operations centre.
"Nicholas Murphy, the local emergency management officer, he provided the ancillary and was the other counterpart to Glenn.
"They brought in the Australian Pipeline Authority (APA) and Jemena as the providers and really set about establishing the nature and scale of the problem."
Supt Noble said it emerged very quickly that the team was facing a large problem.
"It was very far reaching in it's impact, not forgetting that we had snow that week," he said.
He said, having established the nature of the problem, the group established a set of objectives and set some milestones about achieving them.
"I'd say Glenn's leadership, which I had the opportunity to observe, was outstanding. It was composed, steady, measured and assured, and gave all the players in the arrangements a lot of confidence they were being led to a common purpose," he said.
"He asked the appropriate questions with the appropriate weight on them when it was necessary, and bear in mind, as we all knew there was a hell of a lot of political interest and influence and media interest, and rightly so.
"Glenn did a great job of balancing the needs and the wants and the aspirations of all these different councils who were obviously bidding for their own piece of the puzzle to be resolved in an expeditious fashion.
"It was a really fine balancing act and I cant imagine it being done better, than anyone, then Glenn."
Supt Noble said the logistics involved in getting the gas reconnected across four communities was simply enormous.
"Initially the engineers said it would be almost impossible to resolve under six weeks," he said.
"It was pretty dire. To the great credit of people who worked for APA and Jemena and other agencies, they just came up with a series of solutions, one after the other, after the other, and then obviously threw their best minds at it.
"Steered along by Glenn, they came up with one solution after the other that was better and better.
"They were willing to throw resources and finances at it so what we ended up with in two and a half weeks was a durable and a totally 100 per cent effective way to restore everyone's amenities which, you know, which at the start wasn't looking at all to be likely.
"At the beginning, it was six weeks at the minimum, that was the best case scenario. So I've got to give credit to everyone concerned.
"It goes to show where there's a big problem and everyone throws their weight behind it, that we've got amazing capacity to solve very, very difficult problems and work together.
"When we work together in the emergency management frameworks it tends to go really well."
He added the fact there was also an extreme weather event in western NSW with the flooding at the same time the gas outage occurred shows the capability of the emergency services.
He said there is a framework of emergency support ready to go, that people don't even know exists, until it springs into action.
"People don't know about it but it is there, we (police) had serious operations underway across the state with the water issue, but we were still able to get this up and going," Supt Noble said.
"And it was self-contained apart from the engineering that came from different parts of the country, and don't forget in the middle of the operation we also encountered what was forecast to be one of the biggest floods in the Macquarie River in the history of Bathurst.
"With the assistance of everyone in the EOC, Glenn handled it with aplomb," he said.
Supt Noble said the gas crisis was one of the biggest things to happen in Bathurst in recent living memory.
"A lot of people were very worried about it. We have a lot of older, vulnerable people, here," he said.
As the dust settles, there will be a debrief of the situation.
"We will go through it, there were lessons learned, absolutely," Supt Noble said.
"We definitely learnt some things the hard way."
He said early in the piece it was difficult to get accurate information out to people.
"We were still determining the nature of problem, there were some learnings there, but we take them and do a better job next time, whatever that will be," he said.
But for the people at ground zero, he said the should reflect on a job well done.
He said Chief Inspector Cogdell, as should everyone involved, should be proud of what they achieved under very trying circumstances.
Supt Noble also acknowledged the collaboration and support of various councils affected by the outage.
"The GMs and engineering staff and the mayors were a critical part of the leadership through this issue as it unfolded," he said.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content: