Taken this morning on the first anniversary of Cyclone Yasi:
Today marks one year from the day Tropical Cyclone Yasi arrived so I thought I’d compile a list of Yasi related posts and tweets.
2. Next was the first threat map for Yasi from the Fiji Met Service and an infra-red image from NOAA.
3. On the 31st of January the Australian Bureau of Meteorology issued their first threat/track map for Yasi. I added the latest maps as they became available.
4. The ABC published an article about cyclone preparation info as by now it was clear that Yasi was going to be a big one. This post also includes links to QLD Premier Anna Bligh and Deputy Police Commissioner Ian Stewart on YouTube.
5. Then came a list of useful links for cyclone information.
6. Scary headline much?
7. Somehow this blog shot up the Google index.
8. We got up at 5am and checked the BoM track map. We got a bit of a surprise.
9. ABC Breakfast’s Virginia Trioli asked if any viewers were in the path so I replied via Twitter. Silkwood got what was possibly its first ever mention on television:
10. Sitting and waiting in the council offices in Tully for Yasi to arrive.
11. I would have added the tweets from Tully but they no longer seem to be available.
12. In the eye of Cyclone Yasi.
13. I finally got to post some photos a few days later. As soon as it was light enough in the morning after Yasi had passed three of us hopped into a council ute and did the first damage assessment photo survey of Tully. I took nearly 250 images of damaged buildings and infrastructure in approximately 60% of Tully. These were in the hands of the authorities by about 9am.
14. One day later. Gathering thoughts.
16. Made contact with Queensland Premier Anna Bligh via Twitter:
17. 500 volunteers come to Silkwood to help with the clean-up.
18. Anna Bligh responds to volunteer effort via Twitter:
19. Lisa is so chuffed with the help from the volunteers that she makes a “thank you” sign. For the next two weeks everyone passing seems to stop and take a photo.
20. An evacuation shelter at Tully that wasn’t up to the job.
21. The local council seems to be invisible and we need some industrial strength boys’ toys in Silkwood. Brisbane responds promptly:
22. Queensland government starts to liase with David Hall, a Silkwood resident and organiser of the clean-up:
23. Tully’s famous Golden Gumboot, still standing after two massive cyclones.
24. It’s the 18th of February and things are starting to happen.
25. We used to live at Tully Heads before we moved to Silkwood in 2010. Here are some photos of what it used to look like.
26. Premier Anna Bligh keeps her promise and visits Silkwood for a coldie.
27. Things look a bit different now.
28. First signs of trees in recovery.
29. Prince William makes a flying visit to Cardwell and Tully.
30. We established QLD.so, a URL shortening service to raise awareness of the Premier’s Fund.
31. A massive turn out for the annual Tully Show.
32. Tully, six months after Yasi. Lots still needs to be done.
33. More progress on the house rebuild.
34. Er, that’s it. The house still leaks. The ceiling still bulges downwards. The expense goes on. SunCorp is still being very unhelpful. We have worked out the $15k from the Premier’s Fund will not cover the extra work that SunCorp aren’t paying for.
Last of all I’d like to thank all those people and organisations that have helped us in the last year. You know who you are. You made a big difference.
Please note this a first draft and will be updated and improved. If you have a useful contribution or suggestion please leave a comment below. Thank you.
I’ve been thinking about this since February. How do we make a small community such as Silkwood more resilient in the aftermath of a major natural disaster such as Cyclone Yasi? The same conclusions would apply to all the other small outlying villages.
People that have spent some time in the Wet Tropics know the basics for personal survival and coping in the immediate period after such an event but a few things could be improved for the community as a whole.
The first thing that is key to these improvements is better communications.
Voice and Data
One thing we learned from Yasi is that telecommunications can withstand a big hit but only for a while. I’m told that Telstra used to have standby generators at rural and regional exchanges. The keys to operate these were given to a trusted local along with a supply of fuel. Apparently this was discontinued some years ago and now the exchanges rely on back-up batteries that are only good for a few days. I need to confirm this with Telstra.
Many people have friends and relatives outside of the affected area and contacting them to communicate their survival is vitally important.
We found ourselves in the situation where we had Internet access via a Telstra Mobile Broadband 3G modem for a few days but this stopped when the exchange finally ran out of power. The ABC’s Far North Queensland radio station was a real boon for getting fresh information into the disaster zone but radio can only do so much. You can’t print out a radio show and pin it to a community notice board.
Our Telstra 3G dongle wouldn’t let us send email from a non-Telstra account and we don’t have a Telstra email account. Telstra needs to look at SMTP blocking when a disaster has just struck.
One solution would be some kind of satellite phone unit that has Internet/data capabilities. This would enable us to get information out as well as information in. Such a unit could be housed by a community hub such as the Post Office, the pub or the Police.
Ergon Energy appeared to have an improved strategy for restoring power with lessons learned from Cyclone Larry in 2006. Their response was magnificent especially when the fact that their engineers had already been through the previous month’s problems along the coast. Major congratulations to Ergon and the other companies that assisted them.
In the Voice and Data section I mentioned a satellite communications unit. This would require power for at least two weeks. Whether this is supplied by a portable solar PV unit or a generator is a matter for others to decide but one needs to be located alongside the satellite unit.
Local Government Information
This was a major problem after Yasi. The Cassowary Coast Regional Council was almost invisible and silent for what seemed like days. Eventually they started to publish a newsletter but didn’t distribute it. I had to drive to Tully every few days and get 100 copies printed out for people in Silkwood. It was then hand-delivered to community hubs such as Silkwood News, the local police office, the pub and the servo.
The system mentioned above can improve the distribution but the content needs to be more timely and more relevant and also with the ability to ask questions and request help where needed.
Lots more to come later. Please feel free to contribute.
This is where we’ll be for the next three months.
Over the last few days you may have noticed some news articles about various companies and local government bodies to coincide with the six month anniversary of Cyclone Yasi. They seem to be full of self-congratulatory quotes about their achievements since the night of the 2nd/3rd of February. I’m sure some have been hard at work but what is the reality on the ground for ordinary people? It’s not possible for me to find out why things are still such a mess in these individual cases but talk to anyone that is still waiting for work to commence on their homes and you’ll get the same answers every time: slow insurance companies, unreliable assessors and over-priced builders. And remember this: not every damaged house was lucky enough to get a tarp on the roof. There are many that look relatively Ok from the outside but have completely ruined interiors due to the rain.
I drove round a small part of Tully over the last two days and this is what I saw. I’ll split the photos over two pages so they load more quickly:
Lastly, a small town such as Tully faces a massive task in rebuilding after a natural disaster of the scale of Cyclone Yasi. Something that helps is keeping local businesses going. Two local businesses that should have thrived after Yasi are the local glass shop and timber yard. This is what they look like after six months: