Disaster Network helps push education rollout

By Mitch Gaynor

THE Sunshine Coast Council (SCC) will roll out an educational campaign on disaster preparedness following meetings with the Glasshouse Country Disaster Management Network (GCDMN).

The GCDMN recently presented the council with a series of recommendations including how to improve communication during natural disasters. The recommendations came after recent floods and storms exposed disaster response limitations when towns across Glasshouse Country including Peachester, Beerwah, Beerburrum, Landsborough and Glass House Mountains became isolated within hours of torrential rain on Friday, February 25.

Communications were at times impossible after phone services were cut, while stranded travellers had no place of refuge due to no official evacuation centres.

The GCDMN sought feedback on people’s experiences and made recommendations around communication improvements, places of refuge and evacuation centres, and learnings for increased preparedness for next season. “Out of all of that we were able to gather that feedback and have a meeting directly with council,” GCDMN’s Jenny Broderick said at a meeting outlining those recommendations.

A council representative said the SCC had since had “conversations around putting together a schedule of educational paraphernalia throughout the year… to add further awareness out there and make sure our community’s well prepared”. The GCDMN said it was also recommending the delivery of magnets with key contact details to help people in the event of a natural disaster.

It has also provided the SCC with details on the most active Facebook pages during the recent floods, with the aim of improving the flow of communication.

A back-to-basics approach was recommended by Division 1 Councillor Rick Baberowski who urged people to prepare by having battery radios.

“It’s worth reminding people your mobile network might go down so it’s not a bad idea to have a battery or wind-up radio so you can keep up with what’s going on,” he told the meeting.

The Network also asked that the council review the designated places of refuge and evacuation centres, given that there were none available across Glasshouse Country.

This created scenarios that meant some halls were being opened to help people during the day, but then have to be  closed in the evenings despite no change in people’s circumstances.

“We’ve offered to support that through getting contacts and a list of centre locations which council is actively reviewing,” Jenny said.

“We’ve also recommended having local representatives established in each of those townships.”

Another recommendation was providing training for local representatives in the event of a disaster that required an evacuation hub.

It was also revealed during the meeting that local rural fire brigades were meeting with plans to recommend the installation of satellite phone.

Image by Rebecca Skelton