August 3rd 2009
It's only a matter of time
With not one building on Magnetic Island deemed safe enough for use as a public-use emergency shelter in the event of a cyclone, Townsville Greens' spokesperson, Jenny Stirling, said today, "It is a failure by the State Government of their duty of care for locals and tourists in the cyclone season".
Her comments were part of a broader attack on the Government. She claimed that residents of Townsville and Magnetic Island will hold the State Government accountable for its failure to provide sufficient funding for disaster management.
“What does it take for the State to realize how vulnerable Townsville and Magnetic Island are to extreme weather events including a cyclone - a disaster like the Victorian fires? It's just a matter of time before a Category 5 (most destructive cyclone) like Cyclone Hamish hits the coast and we need to be prepared.”
"And for Magnetic Islanders it's not the same as the mainland because people cannot get off once the seas are up and there are no shelter structures available. If Hamish had come across Magnetic you would be in real strife," she told Magnetic Times.
“Thus far we have been extraordinarily fortunate that there have been few causalities but it is over 3 decades since we had a major cyclone hit Townsville and many people have come to live in this area from down South who have no idea about how destructive a cyclone could be.”
The State Emergency Services has said it needs funding for: a strategic plan, a task tracking system for the Disaster Co-ordination Centre and a community message system.
In Aug 2006 (before an election) we reported former ALP Member for Townsville, Mike Reynolds, when asked about a cyclone shelter for Magnetic, as saying, "A multi-purpose structure for a range of different facilities could be used as a community shelter," and that, "Offshore Islands present specific problems in terms of preparation and our planning really needs to take into account those features."
We haven't heard anything since.
Today Magnetic Times sought a comment from the current Member for Townsville, Mandy Johnstone, but have yet to receive a reply.
Storm surge maps provided by the SES indicating
probable water levels at Nelly and Picnic Bay
Jenny Stirling said, “I put it to the State Government: If they can find money for V8s then they can find money for precautionary measures that will save lives and perhaps millions in property damage.”
“This city also needs a clean up and it is not responsible for either the State or Townsville City Council to say that people are responsible for cleaning up their own yards: some don’t have the resources and many more don’t understand the urgency of the situation.”
“As a candidate in local Council and state elections, I have been calling for the State to honour Premier Beattie’s promise to build pre- cyclone evacuation centres for two years now and, still, little has been done for people on the mainland although I note with some satisfaction that Palm Island is being funded to build one but Magnetic Island is as deserving as Palm in this regard,"
Now its time to bite the bullet and start prepping this community for what is to come with the likelihood of more frequent cyclones, severe weather events and tidal surges – to which Townsville is very prone, built, as it is, on a flood plain.
Story: George Hirst
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