Discussions for evacuation centres

EVACUATION centres will be put back on the table next week when the Whitsunday Disaster Management team meets for discussion.

The issue became a hot topic after the region was hit with two cyclones in just four days earlier this month and sparked national media attention and the label of ‘cyclone alley'.

But Whitsunday Regional Council mayor Mike Brunker said although the topic was going to be discussed next Monday, he believed the current evacuation policy would remain the same.

Cr Brunker said he did plan on discussing it with State Government as a State-wide issue at some stage.

He said it was important to note the difference between evacuation centres and refuge centres.

Evacuation centres are a place people can go pre-cyclone and refuge centres are for post-cyclone.

The Whitsundays currently only offers post-cyclone refuge centres.

There are 35 designated sites within the region which vary in size but these are only determined as suitable for refuge centres after a safety inspection.

“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.”

Cr Brunker said that when North Queensland towns opened up shopping centres and other evacuation centres during cyclone Yasi it opened up a can of worms.

“That has created a problem for us,” he said.

“We have a legal obligation not to park people in something that is not going to stand up,” he said.

Cr Brunker said the best advice for people who felt unsafe still remained: go to friends, family or a hotel in higher places.

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