Ad­dress the risks

Townsville Bulletin - - Voice Of The North - Opin­ion Chris Eas­taughffe, Wood­stock

A PLEA to all three lev­els of gov­ern­ment.

We are all well aware that the Queens­land coast, es­pe­cially in the trop­ics, is ex­posed to se­vere weather events.

We are aware that in re­cent times we have been lucky to have se­vere weather events miss our ma­jor cen­tres.

We are aware that we have much larger pop­u­la­tions than we used to, and that we have built on to the coastal plain, and river flats and low­lands.

We are aware that these things were done with the sanc­tion, and over­sight, of all lev­els of gov­ern­ment.

Could those same three lev­els of gov­ern­ment put pol­i­tics aside and start ad­dress­ing the risks they have cre­ated.

We need them to start work­ing on real cy­clone shel­ters.

These shel­ters need to be el­e­vated. They need to be rated to cat­e­gory five.

Now, as I un­der­stand a true cat­e­gory five struc­ture has no win­dows, per­haps this could be ad­dressed with in­te­gral steel shut­ters. They need their own wa­ter and power. They need to be able to be used for the pro­vi­sion of ba­sic med­i­cal as­sis­tance. They need to be built with con­sid­er­a­tion for ac­cess by air ( he­li­copters). They need to be ac­ces­si­ble. They need to be in var­i­ous lo­ca­tions.

Now, I am not propos­ing

PLAN­NING: Peo­ple take refuge in the Townsville Walker St evac­u­a­tion cen­tre dur­ing Cy­clone Yasi sin­gle use struc­tures.

But these could do dou­ble duty as sport­ing venues, as t heat re­sorenter­tain­ment cen­tres, as train­ing cen­tres for the fire brigade and SES, as mil­i­tary t r an­sit ac­com­mo­da­tion and many other uses.

Spread­ing them around the area would as­sist with de­cen­tral­i­sa­tion of ma­jor cen­tres.

We have a hos­pi­tal in Cairns that the gov­ern­ment de­clined to move from the fore­shore and storm surge zone some years ago, due to aes­thet­ics. We have a hos­pi­tal built in Townsville that was too small from the start, with in­ad­e­quate park­ing and ac­cess. We have a free­way which is such in name only. We have so many ex­am­ples of in­ad­e­quate plan­ning and fore­thought.

And as a lit­tle thought, why not build a multi-storey carpark at Townsville Hos­pi­tal in such a way that it could be an el­e­vated, cat­e­gory five cy­clone ( and earth­quake) proof emer­gency med­i­cal fa­cil­ity ( at least triage and mi­nor med­i­cal).

Put in an earth­quake rated el­e­vated walk­way into the hos­pi­tal ( a strong ver­sion of what was cre­ated at the John Flynn Cen­tre on the Gold Coast would work).

That would give you an emer­gency he­li­pad area on the roof, a strong struc­ture in the carpark area, ve­hi­cle ac­cess to the bot­tom and ac­cess to the hos­pi­tal through a weather proof walk­way ( or mul­ti­ple walk­ways for re­dun­dancy).

You could in­cor­po­rate wa­ter stor­age into the base, and plant rooms into the up­per struc­ture ( note: not on the bot­tom level).

A plan­ning marvel known as re­serve ca­pac­ity for emer­gen­cies – that also solves the cur­rent park­ing prob­lems.

Why don’t all lev­els of gov­ern­ment prove us wrong and come up with a prac­ti­cal, sen­si­ble and re­al­is­tic plan for shel­ters that will work.

I chal­lenge all lev­els of pol­i­tics to prove me wrong and ac­tu­ally do some­thing that is ahead of the game.

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