Learn­ing from Larry

Townsville Bulletin - - News - By JOHN AN­DER­SEN

IF an­other cy­clone heads In­n­is­fail’s way in 2007 Wool­worths and Coles will open along with IGA.

On March 19 this year with Cy­clone Larry mak­ing a bee-line for In­n­is­fail, only the IGA which nor­mally trades on Sun­day was open. Its shelves were stripped bare by pan­icky buy­ers by noon.

Wool­worths and Coles, which are not legally en­ti­tled to open on Sun­days, re­mained closed, their shelves groan­ing un­der the weight of food and es­sen­tials.

‘‘If there is an­other cy­clone Wool­worths and Coles will open as well. It’s against the law for them to open, but we’ll just do it,’’ John­stone Shire Mayor Neil Clarke said.

He said that un­der a new cy­clone bat­tle plan ma­jor re­tail­ers, ser­vice sta­tions and gas out­lets would re­main open. He said al­low­ing peo­ple to stock up with food and fuel would help re­duce the hard­ship that ex­isted af­ter Larry.

‘‘With the power cut none of the elec­tri­cal bowsers worked. A lot of peo­ple had no food and there long queues for fuel at the only me­chan­i­cal bowser in town,’’ he said.

Cr Clarke said coun­cil com­man­deered a ser­vice sta­tion in the town af­ter the cy­clone in or­der to guar­an­tee fuel for coun­cil and emer­gency ser­vice ve­hi­cles.

He said all fuel bought in the days af­ter the cy­clone by coun­cil staff and emer­gency ser­vice per­son­nel in­clud­ing Er­gon staff was charged to his per­sonal coun­cil fuel card.

‘‘At the end of it my fuel card had $50,000 in fuel on it,’’ he said.

He said the money was re­im­bursed by the var­i­ous bod­ies af­ter­wards.

He said i f a cy­clone again ap­proaches the In­n­is­fail coast an emer­gency sit­u­a­tion would be de­clared once the storm is on course. He said tar­pau­lins and wa­ter would be dis­trib­uted to out­ly­ing ar­eas.

He said the Pre­mier would be asked to en­force ear­lier evac­u­a­tions of beach­side ar­eas. He said evac­u­a­tions of vul­ner­a­ble ar­eas would not be left un­til only hours be­fore the cy­clone was due to hit, as was the case with Larry.

Cr Clarke and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer Peter Kel­lett said the Feast of the Senses which was scut­tled at the 11th, hour on March 19 when peo­ple de­serted the city cen­tre to pre­pare their homes for the cy­clone, would go ahead as planned in 2007.

The Feast of the Senses, which cel­e­brates John­stone Shire’s di­verse range of pro­duce, will lack its usual ar­ray of de­li­cious trop­i­cal fruits. Most fruit pro­duc­ers had their crops de­stroyed in the cy­clone, Cr Clarke said.

Cr Neil Clarke

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