CYCLONE season is here and the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) is ramping up preparations.
With an increase in severe weather activity expected as the 2021-22 cyclone season gets underway, QFES has met to discuss “intent for the season ahead and how to minimise the consequences and impacts of severe weather events, including cyclones, storms and flooding”.
QFES Commissioner Greg Leach said QFES’ response to the season would be known as Operation Kurrabana (pronounced Gurrabana).
“Kurrabana is an Indigenous term from the Yirrganydji language and is the wet season on the Yirrganydji seasonal calendar.
“We are likely to have a significant wet season, with the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) identifying a 66 percent chance of a higher-than-average number of cyclones for Australia’s eastern region and an above-average chance of rainfall.
“Last season, only four Tropical Cyclones affected Queensland including Niran, Lucas, Kimi and Imogen so we are likely to see more cyclone activity and impacts.”
In Mackay, 43 tropical cyclones passed within 150km of Mackay from 1910-1992 during the cyclone season from December through to April, according to BoM.
Mackay was hit by one of the worst Tropical Cyclones in not only Queensland but Australian history on 20 January 1918. According to Higgins Storm Chasing, the eye of the unnamed cyclone was believed to have crossed a few kilometres North of Mackay, buffeting the city of Mackay with very destructive Category 4 strength winds.
Mr Leach said while State Emergency Service (SES), Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) and Rural Fire Service (RFS) crews were prepared year-round, they were undertaking extra preparations ahead of the season.
“Queensland faced significant severe storms last year.
“In just one weekend, the SES received more than 2,600 requests for assistance and QFES conducted more than 440 damage assessments, with more jobs rolling in, in the weeks that followed.
“This is a reminder of how quickly conditions can turn so it is crucial that everyone prepares their family and their homes for storm and cyclone season.”
More than 5000 Queensland SES volunteers had already spent more than 97,000 hours this financial year completing operational and non-operational activities, Mr Leach said.
“Our SES volunteers work tirelessly year-round and I’m proud of how they come together when Queenslanders need them most.
“Our FRS swiftwater rescue technicians are conducting extra training out on the water, with motorised swiftwater rescue workshops to refresh skills as well as to certify new technicians in preparation for the upcoming season.
“We also have RFS volunteers ready to help out when severe weather strikes supporting their communities through all hazards.”
While all QFES personnel were ready for severe weather, Mr Leach said it was important Queenslanders did what they could to prepare before it was too late.
“Before heavy rainfall, severe storms or even a cyclone impacts your area, it is important residents take simple steps around their properties to clean-up and also have an emergency kit on hand with a battery-operated radio, torch and spare batteries.
“This way, our SES volunteers will be available to help those who need it most.”
With help from principal community partner Suncorp, SES is urging residents to get their ‘kit together’ ahead of this storm and cyclone season.
A range of new community engagement materials including a document wallet, emergency household plan, fridge magnet stickers and a wind-up torch will assist Queenslanders to get their kit ready.
More information on the kits can be found by contacting Mackay SES group.
To request assistance from the SES, lodge a request on the SES Assistance QLD app or call 132 500.