Evacuation centres a hot topic
NO EVACUATION centres in the Whitsundays was the hot topic when the Premier and her ministers met in Airlie Beach and the Proserpine on Sunday and Monday.
Concerned residents questioned the Premier and her Minsters at the Community Cabinet meeting and again after the official Cabinet meeting as to why our region did not have a Category 5 cyclone evacuation centre despite being labelled “cyclone alley” and having two cyclones in four days.
But when national media questioned Premier Anna Bligh after the Cabinet meeting on Monday she said it would be impossible to have enough evacuation centres to house every person affected by a Category 5 cyclone.
“It is simply not possible. Without a doubt, this is an area where we would like to see a Category 5 shelter built,” she said.
“It is important to realise these are very big, expensive facilities.”
Ms Bligh said the Government had opened four cyclone shelters in Queensland in the past four-and-a-half years.
She said this was more than in the history of Queensland.
However, she said the best place to shelter was at home if you could.
“Ultimately, the best advice from across the world is for people to shelter in their own homes or in the home of family or a friend,” she said.
Whitsunday Regional Council acting mayor Rogin Taylor said the Whitsunday Disaster Management Group would review their policy of not having a certified evacuation centre prior to an event, at their meeting on February 21.
“We do have buildings which we have identified, assessed as suitable and gained the rights to open and use as refuge and welfare centres following the impact of an event,” he said.
“We do not advertise or advise residents of these buildings prior to an event as we do not know if the buildings will be structurally sound and safe to house people.”
Proserpine resident Toni Randall said she had taken in three Dutch backpackers who were staying in Airlie Beach during Cyclone Yasi because they had been told to leave the area but had nowhere to go.
“It made me so angry that tourists are put out on the street,” she said.
“The mayor told them to get up and go and they would have been better off to stay put.
“I'm out there rescuing them - where's the evacuation centre?
“This is cyclone alley.
“We still don't have a Category 5 evacuation centre and it is a tourist mecca. We rely on the tourists.
“Can you imagine if they go out and tell their friends there is nowhere to go [in a cyclone]?”