As Queensland faces the aftermath of cyclone Marcia, one of the strongest cyclones to ever hit central Queensland, we are gently reminded of the fact that we are at mercy to Mother Nature’s peril. This however, does not mean that we should face such peril without careful planning and preparation.
What Causes Cyclones like Marcia?
In order to form, a tropical cyclone needs a cluster of severe thunderstorms and a warm body of water that is at least 27 degrees Celsius. While releasing heat, the warm ocean that lies under the thunderstorms begins to evaporate and condenses to form more cloud.
It is the intense heat energy released, combined with the Earth’s natural rotation that causes the cyclone to spin, and thus, travel. These systems have little impact at sea, but carry the potential to completely destroy whatever lies in their path should they make landfall.
Tropical Cyclone Marcia formed from off the coast of Queensland and intensified rapidly. The storm made landfall between St Lawrence and Yeppoon at about 7:30am (AEST) on Friday 20th February as a maximum strength, category five storm. Wind gusts up to 250 kilometres per hour were recorded.
A cyclone will bring not only destructive winds, but extremely heavy rain which often results in flash flooding. Shortly after cyclone Marcia crossed the coast, Brisbane and Gold Coast residents were warned to get ready as creeks began to flood. But how does one brace for what has been an epic natural disaster? Plan. Prepare. Survive.
Having a preconceived action plan will heighten any ability to withstand the issues that a natural disaster carries. Power outages, water supply disruption, reduced food sources and road closure are common occurrences when a cyclone invades our great sunshine state. A detailed action plan that includes instructions for these occurrences is essential.
Prepare For The Storm
Well before the storm arrives, prepare an emergency kit. An emergency kit should be in a safe, clean and easily accessible location and, according to the Brisbane City Council, should contain the following:
- Portable battery operated radio
- Torch with fresh or spare batteries and bulb
- List of local radio stations for emergency information
- Candles with waterproof matches or a gas lantern
- Reasonable stocks of fresh water and tinned or dried food
- First aid kit and basic first aid knowledge
- Good supplies of essential medication
- Strong shoes and rubber gloves
- Waterproof bag for clothing and valuables
- List of your emergency contact numbers
- Car charger for your mobile phone
As well as a comprehensive emergency kit, it is important to prepare your home for the impacts of a severe storm. To best prevent the destructive forces of a storm from affecting your home, the following tasks should be completed:
- Check and clean your roof, gutters and downpipes
- Identify and secure loose objects in your yard such as outdoor furniture and toys
- Have a supply of plastic shopping bags to use as sand bags for emergency storm water diversion
- Have masking tape and plastic sheeting or large garbage bags available for emergency rain –protection
Careful preparation before a storm is the best way to ‘storm-proof’ your home.
When the storm is approaching-
When a severe storm approaches, ensure your mobile phone is fully charged and listen to a local radio station for information regarding the storm’s path and strength. Unplugging all electrical appliances will prevent electrical surge damage and it is also important to place your vehicles under cover and shelter your pets and animals.
When the storm strikes-
When a severe storm strikes, stay inside, keep away from windows and remain in the strongest part of the house, which is usually the bathroom or cellar. If you are outdoors, find emergency shelter and do not stand under trees.
When the storm has passed-
After the storm has passed, tune into your local radio for warnings and advice. If you need emergency assistance, phone ‘000’.
With effective planning, preparation, and storm survival knowledge, the danger that the storm season brings will not have disastrous human impact. The smart state has its many attractions and advantages, controlling one of its very few sources of disaster by planning and preparing is a necessity for every Queenslander. Ultimately, while the golden sun is out, prepare for its possible absence to guarantee your safety and the safety of those around you.