Cyclone Trevor intensifies off the Northern Territory amid mass evacuation
Fri 22 Mar 2019
Up to 2,100 people from Northern Territory communities in the Gulf of Carpentaria are currently in evacuation centres in Katherine and Darwin, with more reportedly on their way to escape the threat of Tropical Cyclone Trevor.
Earlier on Friday, torrential rain in Darwin swamped a tent city set up for hundreds of people who have evacuated the coastal communities under threat from the monster cyclone.
Salvation Army captain Erica Jones voiced the frustration of many: "This rain is not helpful".
"Look, I think it's just going to make it uncomfortable for the people who are staying in tents at this stage, and getting to and from the different areas that we are able to house people at the moment," Ms Jones said.
Four military aircrafts have assisted in evacuating the entire township of Borroloola and the communities of Robinson River and Numbulwar.
, with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting a "severe impact on the south-western Gulf of Carpentaria coast".
A flood watch has been issued for Carpentaria Coastal Rivers and the Barkly, with rainfall expected to increase in the eastern Carpentaria Coastal Rivers from Saturday as Cyclone Trevor crosses the coast in the south-western Gulf of Carpentaria and tracks inland.
Predicted rainfalls of 150-250 millimetres and isolated falls to 300mm along the coast were forecast for Saturday, potentially triggering floods in the Barkly and cutting off remote Indigenous communities.
Evacuees filling up sites in Darwin and Katherine
At the Darwin Showgrounds, after being flown in from Groote Eylandt and the Borroloola areas.
The Australian Defence Force flew the last of the evacuees into Darwin last night.
A tent city has been erected by the army next to the Marrara indoor basketball centre, which was being used as a registration and processing hub for the evacuees.
A second evacuation centre has been set up at the Katherine Showgrounds, where up to 1,000 people were now believed to be based.
"I've just had a call-up from [people in] Katherine, who are completely inundated," Ms Jones said.
"They had the capabilities of feeding 300 and, last I checked, 800 had arrived.
"These are self-evacuees, so I've just had a call from the Salvation Army officer who has put in a plea for any volunteers down there to make themselves known."
At latest count, emergency services said their were 588 people at Darwin Showground's Foskey Pavilion, 368 at Marrara and 575 registrations at Katherine.
On top of this, emergency services said hundreds more people have not registered.
"There are a lot of people who have self-evacuated to Katherine, so yes, there was a very large response Ã¢â¬Â¦ and in the afternoon 70 people registered and that swelled to some 900 people registered later in the day," Territory Families' Leanne Taylor said.
Hotel rooms sourced for vulnerable evacuees
Hotel rooms have been sourced in Darwin for some evacuees with serious health problems.
A 10-day-old child was among several babies who arrived at the Marrara Stadium shelter for registration on Thursday.
Merlene Miller from Borroloola travelled with her nine-month-old daughter Annette.
On Friday morning she was waiting to be reconnected with her bag of clothes for herself and her daughter.
Some luggage was transported separately during the evacuation Ã¢â¬â Annette was wrapped in a towel.
"The baby needs clothes, everybody wants to have a shower and put on other clothes," Ms Miller said.
McArthur River mine currently being evacuated
McArthur River mine was to be evacuated on Friday, as well as any people that remained in Borroloola.
Glencore confirmed mining operations at the McArthur River mine had stopped and cyclone procedures were in place.
Senator Malarndirri McCarthy, who is from Borroloola, said she was concerned about what potential damage to the mine could cause to the McArthur River system.
"We do not know what this cyclone will do, we do not know what it will do to our river system, and of course we are worried about that," the senator said.
"I think firstly it's the safety of lives, of personnel, that's number one on the list [of priorities]."
NT Police regional controller Travis Wurst said there were now "no other areas that need to evacuate".
"We have moved people out of Blue Mud Bay, the communities there, into Nhulunbuy," he said.
"There is no need for anyone living on the Central Arnhem Road to evacuate, we have got information that suggest people in Bulman and those surrounding communities have started to evacuate themselves.
"There is no accommodation for those people in our evacuation centres because they are not what we consider to be affected communities."
He advised that due to the current tracking of the cyclone, there was now no requirement for residents at both Groote Eylandt and Nhulunbuy to be evacuated.
Groote residents seeking shelter
The massive logistical effort is now complete, with more than 600 residents from Groote Eylandt in Darwin.
But a further 400 remained in Groote Eylandt, where they were told on Friday to take shelter in "strong houses".
Groote Eylandt currently does not have landline, mobile or internet services, authorities have said.
The communication issues were not related to the weather conditions from the cyclone.
Mornington Island, which is also in Trevor's firing line on the Queensland side of the Gulf, is not undergoing evacuation.
The Queensland Government said it had no plans to evacuate the island, which has a population of about 1,000 people, despite similar moves in NT Gulf communities.
The news comes after a state of emergency was declared in the Northern Territory in anticipation of Cyclone Trevor, which prompted the largest mass evacuation since 1974's Cyclone Tracy.
After the danger has passed authorities will begin the task of surveying the damage and prepare for any rescue or recovery operations.
Emergency preparations for Barkly
Emergency preparations are now also underway in the outback cattle country of the Territory's Barkly region.
Regional controller for the southern region Michael Hebb said residents in the Barkly were urged to take precautions for severe weather, which was expected to include damaging winds and flooding.
"The time to act and ensure you are prepared for severe weather, including possible localised flooding, is now," he said.
"We urge the people who live in these areas to make sure they are prepared, or to start preparing."
The CEO of the NT Cattleman's Association, Ashley Manicaros, said the expected rainfall would actually likely be welcomed by many in the region.
He said he had been speaking earlier to the NT Government earlier about a drought response for animal welfare.
Dry and hot conditions have plagued Central Australia for much of the year, forcing cattle company AACo Ã¢â¬â which owns the Brunette Downs Station in the Barkly Ã¢â¬â to sell off 6,000 cattle this week.
Mr Manicaros said cattle were at risk in the changing weather conditions.
"The real problem moving forward will be the drop in temperature Ã¢â¬Â¦ It [has been a] problem in Queensland when there was a drop, particularly with cattle fatality," he said.
"However, the condition of our livestock is much better.
"The preparation has been such that we've managed to put the cattle together and so we don't think that impact will be anywhere near as bad."
Mr Manicaros said cattle producers had been on the front foot about moving their stock, either to higher ground or trucking them out, but they were racing against the clock.
"Emergency Services wish to close the roads in the area, we still have some pastoralists who are transporting cattle into safer areas, he said.
"If there is an opportunity, we'll be asking whether or not those roads can be kept open longer."
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