Port’s shelter is a people business
IT takes a whole bunch of people to run a storm tide cyclone shelter, like the one in Endeavour Street in Port Douglas.
It can hold 740 people if necessary, but regardless of how many are using it during a time of operation, a team off staff are required – air quality monitors, floor manager, and so on.
Recently Douglas Shire Council took steps to beef up its personnel resources for the shelter, and four staff went to Cairns for special training.
In a crisis, the state government has made allowance to fly teams in to help out at shelters that may need more manning, which would include the shelter in Port Douglas if the need was there.
Council has acted on several matters that became apparent from the experience of weathering Cyclone Ita, almost two years ago.
Cyclone Shelter Manager Michelle Doherty points out that because the shelter is quite new it took an event like Ita to show up some of the practicalities of running it.
“One thing we identified was the need for more staff, “Ms Doherty said, but there were other things too, more to do with the structure itself.
According to Douglas Local Disaster Management Group Coordinator and Council’s General Manager Operations Paul Hoye: “Operational and structural improvements have been developed for things such as the roller doors at the entrance and the louvres which provide ventilation to the building which improve the functionality of the facility when it is activated.
“The improvements were identified through training exercises by Council and other agencies in the facility and also during Cyclone Ita in April 2014 when the Storm Tide Cyclone Shelter was fully activated for the first and only time.
“It is common for such improvements to be made to these facilities once they become operational and the practicalities of using them to provide shelter during a cyclone are identified,” Mr Hoye said.
“Overall the structural changes are relatively minor and are designed to increase the safety and comfort of everyone inside including staff who need to operate various mechanisms to properly secure the shelter while not impacting on the shelter’s ability to withstand a major cyclone event.”
Cooktown Hardware manager Rick Butler tapes his windows as Cyclone Nathan approaches
Michelle Doherty of Douglas Shire Council