What to do with cyclone shelter
IT REMAINS unclear if local residents will be able to utilise the proposed cyclone shelter in Port Douglas “99.999 per cent of the time”.
Community representatives and local emergency services are still unsure what the structure will be used for after an Education Queensland official told a meeting last week the shelter, to be built at Port Douglas State School, would be primarily a school facility.
The meeting presented a draft of the cyclone shelter design, which would have a capacity of up to 780 people for between 18-24 hours during an extreme weather event.
It would not be used to accommodate people in the recovery period after a cyclone.
Up to 600 chairs will be available to those seeking shelter, however there will be limited space available for lying down and for personal possessions and there will be no provisions for parking.
Mossman SES unit controller Bob Taylor questioned where people are going to park.
“We have been assured that there will be access for heavy vehicles and emergency vehicles into the cyclone shelter,” Mr Taylor said.
“But one of my concerns was the car parking available for people who arrive at the centre.
“We need to ensure that people park their cars in IGA, the Wildlife Habitat or in streets away from the centre so there are no restrictions.”
Port Douglas Ambulance OIC Craig Downing expressed concerns of the centre being solely used as a school facility.
“We would certainly welcome it to be used as much as possible by all sectors of the community,” Mr Downing said.
“I would support a community organisation that oversees the facility rather than left strictly in the hands of the school.”
Mr Downing stressed that the facility is meant to cater for the arrival of a cyclone.
“Port Douglas is a community with a very wide geographic group of people who are on holidays and who are not prepared for an event of a cyclone, so this facility is very worthwhile to our region and should be embraced,” he said.
However one of the driving forces for the cyclone shelter, Russell Jean, was disappointed from what he heard in the meeting.
“We were led to believe by the State Government that we would be receiving a public facility and the only reason it was being built at the school was because it was on state owned land,” he said.
Mr Jean is also disappointed members of the community had not had a say in the design.
“This is our only chance for getting a good facility for this region and if they don’t do it right now, we won’t get a second go at it,” Mr Jean stressed.
“By saying people won’t be able to lie down is a worry.
“What do they think children and the elderly are going to do, these events can be exhausting.”