How COVID could impact FNQ cyclone response

 

EXTRA emergency services would need to be flown in from Brisbane if the Far North faces a major weather event this wet season, with local officers stretched thin tackling COVID-19.

Additional staff are typically brought in for cyclones and other natural disasters, but the region's top cop and firefighter said they would need to lean more heavily on southern counterparts if faced with what has been deemed a "convergence disaster".

Far North police Chief Supt Brian Huxley said significant planning had been taking place for weeks, but there were still grave fears both locals and tourists could get caught out.

Far North emergency service bosses including Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Acting Assistant Commissioner Adam Gwin and police Chief Supt Brian Huxley have been planning for the upcoming cyclone season.
Far North emergency service bosses including Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Acting Assistant Commissioner Adam Gwin and police Chief Supt Brian Huxley have been planning for the upcoming cyclone season.


"The bureau's outlook is quite significant, and one of the problems for us here is that Cairns hasn't been hit since the 1950s," he said.

"So you've got an entire generation who haven't experienced the destructive nature, and you've got complacency.

"The indication is we've got a lot of water coming our way, plus cyclonic activity. There has been a massive amount of planning gone into it.

"The plans are Brisbane is going to have to supply resources."

Chief Supt Huxley also revealed police were "very, very concerned" about late season holiday-makers who made a sprint for Cape York when borders reopened, travelling in remote parts of the region, and who could become stranded when major rainfalls begin.

Swift water rescue crews will be forward deployed ahead of major weather events. Picture: Marc McCormack
Swift water rescue crews will be forward deployed ahead of major weather events. Picture: Marc McCormack

"People could find themselves a long way from help, so it is important they've got a plan in place," Chief Supt Huxley said.

"Tourists, people travelling out west and Cape York, need to plan so they don't get surprised by a significant wet or, even worse, a big weather system coming through.

"There are quite a few people in caravans and the like. They need to be out of harm's way."

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Acting Assistant Commissioner Adam Gwin said the department would also be relying on southern support.

"We recognise that any additional event is going to have a significant stretch on our resources," he said.

New mayors and councillors voted in during the March election were also being "upskilled", while the entire fire service, including volunteers, is undergoing specialist training.

Originally published as How COVID could impact FNQ cyclone response



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