Lo­cals lend a hand af­ter Cy­clone Mar­cia

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS - By Rory Sheav­ils

TROP­I­CAL Cy­clone Mar­cia crossed the coast at Yep­poon as a cat­e­gory five in the early hours of Fri­day, Fe­bru­ary 20, and lo­cal Can­non­vale man Pete Richards and eight Whit­sun­day SES mem­bers were there to wit­ness its full fury.

Mr Richards, dig­i­tal me­dia and ed­u­ca­tion co-or­di­na­tor with Whit­sun­day-based dis­as­ter man­age­ment soft­ware firm QIT Plus, and the Whit­sun­day SES were called into ac­tion to as­sist au­thor­i­ties.

Mr Richards gave di­rec­tion on the use of the firm’s emer­gency ser­vices co­or­di­na­tion pro­gram, Guardian, while the SES as­sisted the lo­cal branch of their or­gan­is­tion.

“There’s three of us who’ve come down to as­sist the lo­cal con­troller with co­or­di­na­tion,” said Whit­sun­day SES of­fi­cer in charge Mark Con­nors.

They also as­sem­bled chain­saw and safety teams to as­sist the public and a peer sup­port team for emer­gency serivces in the area.

“We were look­ing at evac­u­a­tions and those kinds of things and de­cid­ing how to get peo­ple out of th­ese ar­eas,” Mr Richards said.

Ten­sions were high when the Whit­sun­day res­i­dents set to work, with the storm surge pre­dicted to be the worst in the town’s recorded his­tory - which luck­ily didn’t even­tu­ate.

There was plenty of dam­age how­ever, with strong winds caus­ing is­sues ev­ery­where.

“I saw the roof of, it was a house or a shed, get ripped off over to the left,” Mr Richards said. When the thick of the storm had passed, the co­or­di­na­tion cen­tres re­cov­ery work started with 200 in­com­ing calls ev­ery hour.

“The calls started com­ing in and things started ramp­ing up,” Mr Richards said.

“We were help­ing a lot of the call log­gers get on their feet, show­ing them what sort of in­for­ma­tion we needed to cap­ture.

“We did a re­quest for as­sis­tance through to dis­trict and state, so we had eyes in the sky at first light the next day.”

This gave the co­or­di­na­tion cen­tre a chance to as­sess the dam­age and di­rect their re­sponse where it was needed.

The lo­cal au­thor­i­ties then set about get­ting power back to the es­sen­tial in­fra­struc­ture such as wa­ter treat­ment plants and the lo­cal hos­pi­tals.

“There was quite a lot of peo­ple com­ing in [to the hos­pi­tal] af­ter the event with in­juries from the clean up,” Mr Richards said. “So get­ting the power back was re­ally crit­i­cal.” The clean up is still on­go­ing, how­ever es­sen­tial ser­vices have been re­stored and life is re­turn­ing to nor­mal.

DIS­AS­TER MASTERS: QIT Plus di­rec­tors Phill Glin­de­mann and Chris Mad­sen, op­er­a­tions manager Leon Storey, ex­ec­u­tive sup­port of­fi­cer Cheyanne Kirby and dig­i­tal me­dia and ed­u­ca­tion co­or­di­na­tor Pete Richards were put to the test dur­ing Trop­i­cal Cy­clone Mar­cia.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.