Magnetic Island North Queensland
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August 3rd 2009
It's only a matter of time

Jenny Stirling With not one building on Magnetic Island deemed safe enough for use as a public-use emergency shelter in the event of a cyclone, Townsville Greens' spokesperson, Jenny Stirling, said today, "It is a failure by the State Government of their duty of care for locals and tourists in the cyclone season".

Her comments were part of a broader attack on the Government. She claimed that residents of Townsville and Magnetic Island will hold the State Government accountable for its failure to provide sufficient funding for disaster management.

“What does it take for the State to realize how vulnerable Townsville and Magnetic Island are to extreme weather events including a cyclone - a disaster like the Victorian fires? It's just a matter of time before a Category 5 (most destructive cyclone) like Cyclone Hamish hits the coast and we need to be prepared.”

"And for Magnetic Islanders it's not the same as the mainland because people cannot get off once the seas are up and there are no shelter structures available. If Hamish had come across Magnetic you would be in real strife," she told Magnetic Times.

“Thus far we have been extraordinarily fortunate that there have been few causalities but it is over 3 decades since we had a major cyclone hit Townsville and many people have come to live in this area from down South who have no idea about how destructive a cyclone could be.”

The State Emergency Services has said it needs funding for: a strategic plan, a task tracking system for the Disaster Co-ordination Centre and a community message system.

In Aug 2006 (before an election) we reported former ALP Member for Townsville, Mike Reynolds, when asked about a cyclone shelter for Magnetic, as saying, "A multi-purpose structure for a range of different facilities could be used as a community shelter," and that, "Offshore Islands present specific problems in terms of preparation and our planning really needs to take into account those features."

We haven't heard anything since.

Today Magnetic Times sought a comment from the current Member for Townsville, Mandy Johnstone, but have yet to receive a reply.

Storm surge maps provided by the SES indicating
probable water levels at Nelly and Picnic Bay

Jenny Stirling said, “I put it to the State Government: If they can find money for V8s then they can find money for precautionary measures that will save lives and perhaps millions in property damage.”

“This city also needs a clean up and it is not responsible for either the State or Townsville City Council to say that people are responsible for cleaning up their own yards: some don’t have the resources and many more don’t understand the urgency of the situation.”

“As a candidate in local Council and state elections, I have been calling for the State to honour Premier Beattie’s promise to build pre- cyclone evacuation centres for two years now and, still, little has been done for people on the mainland although I note with some satisfaction that Palm Island is being funded to build one but Magnetic Island is as deserving as Palm in this regard,"

Now its time to bite the bullet and start prepping this community for what is to come with the likelihood of more frequent cyclones, severe weather events and tidal surges – to which Townsville is very prone, built, as it is, on a flood plain.

Story: George Hirst

To add your comment,
or read those of others, see below

It's only a matter of time
August 3rd 2009
What exactly is a "public use emergency structure"? The strong implication is that this bolt hole could or would be used as an alternative to people remaining in their houses at the time of impact of a cyclone. It doesn't sound the same as a post-cyclone co-ordination centre.
Isn't this goal of a state guaranteed safe house under ALL conditions a recipe for no action whatsoever? Even if three quarters of the population chose to take their chances at home (and what alternative anyway if you are stuck on the Island?) this "emergency structure" would still need to be designed to house some hundreds of people - regardless of how many would actually be able to get there. I can't think of any situation (including interstate bushfires) where governments act in this way. And I think I can see why.
Kevi Parkes
August 3rd 2009
Townsville also has no emergency shelters that are not subject to flooding.

The possability of catostrophic flooding via the Bohle River and Ross River is acute.
August 4th 2009
Get a grip Jenny. The idea that the Govt should provide everything to protect us from ourselves is impractical. For a start Magnetic Island would need at least four shelters. One for each of the main Bays. Because we all know that travel between the Bays is not on during or after a bad storm, let alone a cyclone Cat 5. Govts have already tried to show the way by setting higher building standards. The best thing we can do is make sure our houses are up to standard and not have a lot of 'stuff' about to act as missiles. The worst problem in Innisfail was all the 'dodgy' add-ons on verandahs and poorly maintained buildings. They make great missiles in a cyclone. We all have a responsibility here. Not just the Govt.
March 9th 2013
I thought there were over 2000 living on Magnetic Island, a shelter is only going to address the edges of the problem. Is there a strategy plan for days before a cyclone, other than batten down ? I spoke to a resident who remembers a cyclone about 50 years ago that flattened every tree. It will happen again.

What do you think? Send us your comments.

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