Despite our almost idyllic lifestyle, the Tablelands region is vulnerable to disaster events, natural and man-made, accidental and deliberate.
- removing, cutting or mowing bushes, grass and weeds around sheds, fences and gates
- clearing overhanging branches from the roof
- cleaning gutters and installing gutter plugs
- establishing a clear buffer zone around your house and other buildings
- keeping hoses at the ready
- checking water systems, pumps and generators.
Discuss what you will do in a bushfire situation with your family and develop a Bushfire Survival Plan.
Permit to Light Fire
An application for a Permit to Light Fire is made through your local fire warden. Contact details for fire wardens are available through the Fire Warden Finder on Rural Fire Service. Following receipt of your application, the fire warden may impose conditions on a permit to reduce unwanted risk or nuisance to other people, property or to the environment. The fire warden may refuse to issue a permit if they believe that appropriate safety measures cannot be reasonably achieved.
Planned fuel reduction prevents wildfire damage.
Neighbourhood Safer Places
Approved Neighbourhood Safer Places by QFES for wildfire events are:
- Herberton and District Rugby League Ground, 1181 Longlands Gap Rd, Wondecla
Tropical cyclones are low-pressure systems. In the Southern Hemisphere, tropical cyclones have well-defined clockwise wind circulation with a region surrounding the centre of gale force winds (sustained winds of 63km/hr or greater with gusts in excess of 90km/hr). The gale-force winds can extend hundreds of kilometres from the cyclone centre. If the sustained winds around the centre reach 119km/hr (gusts in excess of 170km/hr), then the system is called a severe tropical cyclone. These are referred to as hurricanes or typhoons in other countries.
The circular eye or centre of a tropical cyclone is an area characterised by light winds and often by clear skies. Eye diameters are typically 40km but can range from under 10km to over 100km. They eye is surrounded by a dense ring of cloud, about 16km high, known as the eyewall, which marks the belt of strongest winds and heaviest rainfall.
Tropical cyclones derive their energy from the warm tropical oceans and do not form unless the sea-surface temperature is above 26.5°C, although, once formed, they can persist over lower sea-surface temperatures. Tropical cyclones can persist for many weeks and may follow quite erratic paths. They usually dissipate over land or colder oceans.
Most of the northern coastline of Australia is covered by the Bureau of Meteorology’s weather watch radar network.
Research has shown that cyclones in Australian exhibit more erratic paths than cyclones in other parts of the world. A tropical cyclone can last for a few days or up to two or three weeks. Movement in any direction is possible, including sharp turns and loops.
How to Prepare for the Cyclone Season
Visit Get Ready for general information on preparing for cyclones.
Even if previous cyclones have not moved over your area, this is no guarantee that future cyclones will miss you. The following actions help to ensure you, your family and your home are prepared in the event of a disaster. You should aim to complete these preparations by 1 November every year:
- Trim trees and de-nut coconut palms. Keep your garden tidy of rubbish and ensure trees and branches are clear from your home and overhead power lines. Do not attempt to clear trees from power lines — call Ergon Energy on 13 10 46 for advice.
- Check the walls, roof and eaves of your home are secure. Ensure any work carried out meets the latest building regulations.
- Fit shutters or metal screens to all glass areas if you have them.
- Clear your property of loose material that could blow about and potentially cause injury or damage during extreme winds.
- Speak with your family about the effects of cyclones and floods, and prepare an Emergency RediPlan. Members of your family that are disabled or elderly will need more time to prepare and to evacuate if necessary.
- Check neighbours, especially recent arrivals and the vulnerable, to ensure they are adequately prepared.
- Keep your car fuelled.
- Ensure your emergency kit is fully stocked.
- Have a good stock of tinned food for your family and pets. You should plan for seven days in urban areas, one month in rural areas and three months in remote areas.
- Have alternative cooking equipment like a gas barbecue.
- Consider having an electrician fit a generator to your home.
- Keep a list of important phone numbers handy.
- Some phones (e.g. cordless) will not work in a power failure. Ensure you have a back up phone that plugs straight into the phone line.
Tropical Cyclone Outlook
Outlook statements are issued daily by each Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre. They present three-day outlooks on possible tropical cyclone development in the region and surrounding oceans.
Tropical Cyclone Information Bulletins
Bulletins are issued every six hours if a tropical cyclone exists within Australian waters, but is not expected to threaten any coastal or island communities within the next 48 hours. Bulletins include the cyclone’s name, current location and forecast movement.
Tropical Cyclone Watch
A watch is issued every six hours when there are indications that gales or stronger winds are expected to affect coastal or island communities within 48 hours but not within 24 hours. It details the communities expected to be affected and gives a brief estimate of the cyclone’s location, intensity, severity category and movement.
When a watch is issued:
- monitor local radio and TV stations
- recheck your property and secure loose items e.g pot plants, hardware, outdoor furniture and rubbish bins
- remove valuable items from the floor and away from windows in case of flooding and flying debris
- check your emergency kit and ensure household members are aware of its location
- ensure household members know the strongest part of the house and what to do in the event of a cyclone warning or evacuation
- check neighbours are aware of the situation and are preparing
- secure valuable items in a waterproof container that you can evacuate with if necessary
- fill your bath, laundry tub and containers with water, in the event the water supply is cut
- freeze water for alternative refrigeration should there be a power failure
- fill vehicle and generator fuel tanks.
Tropical Cyclone Warning
A warning is issued every three hours when there are indications that gales or stronger winds are expected to affect coastal or island communities within 24 hours. As well as information provided in a watch advice, warning advices inform of expected maximum wind gusts. Forecasts of heavy rainfall, flooding and abnormally high tide are including where relevant. Communities under threat are also advised to take precautions to safeguard their lives and property. When a cyclone is under radar surveillance close to the coast, hourly advices may be issued.
The name given to Tropical Cyclone Watch or warning messages is an Advice or Tropical Cyclone Advice. A tropical cyclone advice is prefixed “FLASH” when it is the first warning to a community not previously alerted by a cyclone watch. It is also issued when major changes are made to the previous warning due, for example, to unexpected movement towards the coast or rapid intensification.
When a warning is issued:
- monitor local radio and TV stations
- collect children from school or childcare centre and go home
- park vehicles under solid shelter (handbrake on and in gear)
- put outdoor furniture and other loose items in your pool or bring inside
- close shutters or board/tape all windows and lock all doors
- pack an evacuation kit of warm clothes, essential medications, baby formula, nappies, valuables, important papers, photos and mementos in waterproof bags to be taken with your emergency kit
- secure large/heavy valuables in a strong cupboard
- remain indoors (with your pets)
During a Cyclone
- Do not evacuate unless you have been advised to.
- Stay inside and shelter well clear of windows in the strongest part of the building (cellar, bathroom, internal hallway or passageway).
- Disconnect all electrical appliances but keep a battery-powered radio on for updates.
- Keep evacuation and emergency kits close to hand.
- If the building starts to break up, protect yourself with mattresses, rugs or blankets under a strong table or bench, or hold onto a solid fixture e.g. a water pipe.
- Beware of the calm eye — if the wind drops, don’t assume the cyclone is over, violent winds may soon resume from another direction. Stay inside and wait for the official all-clear.
- If driving, stop well away from the sea and clear of trees, power lines and waterways. Stay in your vehicle.
After a Cyclone
- Stay indoors until authorities officially advise it is safe and that the cyclone has passed.
- Continue to listen to the radio for official warnings and advice.
- Check for gas leaks. Don’t use electric appliances if wet.
- If you had to evacuate, don’t go home until advised.
- If you need to evacuate use a recommended route and take your time.
- Beware of damaged power lines — they could be live.
- Beware of hazards e.g. damaged bridges, buildings, trees, flooded watercourses etc.
- Never enter floodwaters.
- Heed all warnings and don’t go sightseeing.
- Check and help neighbours.
- Avoid making unnecessary phone calls — the phone system may be limited and should be kept available for emergency services.
- a physical collapse of part or all of the dam
- an uncontrolled release of any of its contents.
A failure impact assessment, carried out by a registered professional engineer, evaluates the number of people whose safety would be at risk if there was a dam failure.
There are four referable dams in our region.
Crooks & Wyndham Dams
Crooks and Wyndham dams are approximately 11km north of Mount Garnet. They are homogeneous earth fill embankment dams built in the mid to late 1960s for mining, which has now ceased. The dams are currently only used for stock watering. Wyndham Dam is about 2km upstream of Crooks Dam. Only Crooks Dam is classified as referable. In an extreme rainfall event, up to 32 properties in Mount Garnet may be affected by flooding. The Department of Energy & Water Supply (DEWS) is the owner of the Crooks and Wyndham dams.
Wild River Dam
Wild River Dam is at the headwaters of the Wild River, approximately 5km north-east of Herberton. Of the two dams — Wild River Dam and the new Wild River Dam (1994) — only the new dam is classified as referable. The dams provide water for the township of Herberton. The Failure Impact Assessment conducted in 2013 identifies 26 people at risk in a sunny day failure scenario, and 81 people at risk in a probable maximum flood scenario. Residents need to understand their responsibilities and manage their safety in accordance with the Emergency Action Plan. TRC is the owner of Wild River Dam.
Koombooloomba Dam is a concrete gravity dam with a water-filled rubber dam on the crest across the Tully River, approximately 35km south-south-east of Ravenshoe. Koombooloomba Dam was built for hydroelectric power generation for the Kareeya Power Station. There are no residential properties at risk in the TRC area. However, recreational users of the dam and river may be at risk in the unlikely event of a dam failure. Restrictions apply to watercraft on the lake above 90% and below 25% dam level for safety and environmental reasons. Stanwell Corporation is the owner of Koombooloomba Dam and provides up-to-date information.
Earthquakes are a shaking or trembling of the Earth’s crust caused by the release of stresses due to underground volcanic forces, the breaking of rock between the surface, or by a sudden movement along an existing fault line. Earthquakes are unpredictable and strike without warning. They range in strength from slight tremors to great shocks lasting from a few seconds to a few minutes.
Preparation is much the same for any disaster where you should follow the simple steps from Get Ready Queensland:
- Have an emergency plan.
- Prepare an evacuation plan.
- Have an emergency kit.
- Prepare your home.
- Tune into warnings.
- Check your neighbours.
- Have a pet emergency plan.
During an Earthquake
- stay clear of falling debris
- keep clear of windows, chimneys and overhead fittings. Shelter under, and hold onto, a door frame, strong table or bench
- in high-rise buildings, stay clear of windows and outer walls. Shelter under a desk near a pillar or internal wall
- do not use elevators.
- In crowded buildings, do not rush for doors, but move clear of overhead fittings and shelves.
- keep well clear of buildings, overhead structures, walls, bridges, powerlines, trees, etc.
- shelter from falling debris under strong archways or doorways of buildings.
- don’t shelter under awnings as they may collapse.
If in a vehicle:
- stop in an open area until the shaking stops
- beware of fallen powerlines and road damage, including overpasses and bridges
- listen to your car radio for warnings before moving.
Find out more about earthquakes.
A flood is retention of water in the landscape due to excess rain that occurs in low-lying areas and/or near watercourses that can lead to water overflow. Flash floods can occur when a storm moves slowly, so that a small area receives most of the rain, but the drainage and runoff characteristics on the ground can also determine the area of greatest impact.
Flood damage is not always covered by insurance – check your policy documents carefully.
By being aware and taking preventative measures before a flood, the negative effects can be reduced. Here are some actions you could take in advance of a flood to prepare your home and to reduce the impacts to you and your family:
- Research local flood history — ask neighbours, locals and us for information.
- Avoid building on floodplains unless you elevate and reinforce your home.
- If you area is flood-prone, consider alternatives to carpet on ground levels, such as removable floor rugs, and tiled floors and walls.
- Raise your electrical panel to a high position above flood level.
- Install check valves in sewer traps to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your house. This will prevent raw sewage from contaminating your house.
- Seal walls in basements, or those regularly exposed to flooding with waterproofing compounds to prevent seepage through cracks.
- Construct floodwalls to stop floodwater entering your home. You will need to check with us to confirm the regulations pertaining to the construction of floodwalls and levees in your area. You may not be allowed to build a floodwall in your area.
- Have a builder add a waterproof veneer to exterior walls of your house.
- Keep insurance policies, documents and other valuables in a watertight container stored in a high place in your house. You will need your personal papers after the impact to ensure speedy insurance claims and to access bank accounts, etc. Do not forget to take the container with you if you have to evacuate.
- Keep a supply of sandbags, and sand to fill them with, available to sandbag doors to prevent water from entering your house.
- List emergency phone numbers in a clearly visible location.
- Prepare a household emergency plan and an emergency kit including emergency phone numbers, portable radio, torch, spare batteries, first aid kit, strong plastic bags for clothing, valuables, and plastic sheets, timber strips, hammers and nails for temporary repairs.
- Do not camp in dry river beds as they can become flooded without warning.
During Heavy Rainfall / Floods
It is important to stay informed during heavy rainfall and potential flooding events. Warnings, latest situation updates and information will always be released via the broadcast media.
- Tune into local radio and heed all warnings, information and advice.
- Check the Bureau of Meteorology for weather warnings, rainfall and river heights.
- Check your emergency kit and evacuation kit.
- Anchor down anything which might float away. Move vehicles, outdoor equipment, garbage, chemicals and poisons to higher locations – unsecured items can cause damage to people, property and the environment.
- Plan which indoor items you will raise or empty if water threatens your home e.g. TV, fridge/freezer, etc.
- Avoid travelling long distances as motorists can be stranded for days at a time in the wet season.
- Safeguard your pets.
- If you have to evacuate go to family or friends who live on higher ground. In some circumstances, we may establish an evacuation centre for people who are unable to make alternative arrangements. If activated, the location will be publicised on broadcast radio.
- Collect your evacuation kit.
- Raise furniture, clothing and valuables to higher ground e.g. onto beds, tables and into roof spaces.
- Empty freezers and refrigerators, leaving doors open.
- Turn off power, water and gas.
- Whether you leave or stay, put sandbags in the toilet bowl and over laundry/bathroom drain holes to prevent sewage back-flow.
- Lock your home and take recommended evacuation routes for your area.
- Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream/creek on foot.
- Do not attempt to cross flooded creeks and rivers in vehicles. A stalled vehicle can easily be swept away by rapidly rising waters. Abandon the vehicle if necessary.
- Consider hidden hazards — roads may have been damaged and may not be intact under the water.
After the Flood
Cleaning up after a flood is challenging and you may be faced with dangerous and hazardous situations. Always consider hazards and never put your safety in jeopardy.
- Continue to listen to the radio for additional weather warnings and official advice.
- Do not drink or prepare food with tap water until advised that the infrastructure has been checked as it may be contaminated. Boil tap water until supplies have been declared safe.
- If you had to evacuate do not return home until advised it is safe to do so and then only use the official route recommended.
- Avoid entering floodwaters. If you must, wear solid shoes and check depth and current with a stick. Stay away from drains, culverts and water over knee-deep.
- Do not allow children to play in or near floodwaters.
- Be wary of fallen power lines, damaged buildings, flooded roads, unstable tree branches, and hidden dangers associated with any flooding.
- Electrical equipment that has been water damaged should be dried and checked by a qualified electrician before use.
- When entering buildings use extreme caution.
- Check the fridge and freezer for spoilage.
- Throw away any food that has come into contact with floodwaters.
- Pump out flooded basements gradually to avoid structural damage.
- Repair damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits and leaching systems as soon as possible as they pose a health hazard to yourself, your family and your neighbours.
- Use the telephone only for emergency calls as the networks will be busy.
The Bureau of Meteorology provides a flood warning service for most major rivers in Australia. This service is provided with the cooperation of other government authorities, such as the State Emergency Service in each State/Territory, water agencies and local councils. BOM delivers this service through Flood Warning Centres and Regional Forecasting Centres in Bureau Regional Offices in each State and the Northern Territory.
The Flood Warning Service provides different types of information that depends on the type of flooding and the flood risk. The range of information, which may vary between states and areas within a State, includes:
- A generalised flood warning that flooding is occurring or is expected to occur in a particular region. No information on the severity of flooding or the particular location of the flooding is provided. These types of warnings are issued for areas where no specialised warnings systems have been installed. As part of its Severe Weather Warning Service, the Bureau also provides warnings for severe storm situations that may cause flash flooding. In some areas, the Bureau is working with local councils to install systems to provide improved warnings for flash flood situations.
- Warnings of minor, moderate or major flooding in areas where the Bureau has installed specialised warning systems. In these areas, the flood warning message will identify the river valley, the locations expected to be flooded, the likely severity of the flooding and when it is likely to occur.
- Predictions of the expected height of a river at a town or other important locations along a river, and the time that this height is expected to be reached. This type of warning is normally the most useful in that it allows local emergency authorities and people in the flood threatened area to more precisely determine the area and likely depth of the flooding. This type of warning can only be provided where there are specialised flood warning systems and where flood forecasting models have been developed.
Interpreting Flood Warnings
In order to get the most benefit from flood warnings, people in flood-prone areas will need to know what, if any, effect the flood will have on their property and some knowledge of how best to deal with a flood situation. Sources of such information could include:
- flood bulletins/warnings issued by BOM, TRC or emergency services that often contain details of areas affected by flooding, road closures and other advice on what the community should do if they are likely to be flooded
- long-term residents who may have experienced a similar flood in the past and remember how it affected them
- flood studies and maps
Flood warnings typically include a statement about both current and expected levels of flooding at key locations in the area covered by the warning, along with a weather forecast and the latest available observations of river height and rainfalls in the area. In the interpretation of warning messages, it is important to note that the predicted height is a river level above a certain datum, and not a depth of floodwater. BOM’s role is to provide flood warnings, some of which contain forecasts of expected river heights. Other agencies (local Councils, SES, etc) are responsible for interpreting river levels into depths and areas of inundation. People living in flood-prone areas should consult with these agencies to find out what level of warning service is operated for their area.
Causes inconvenience. Low-lying areas next to watercourses are inundated which may require the removal of stock and equipment. Minor roads may be closed and low-level bridges submerged.
In addition to the above, the evacuation of some houses may be required. Main traffic routes may be covered. The area of inundation is substantial in rural areas requiring the removal of stock.
In addition to the above, extensive rural areas and/or urban areas are inundated. Properties and towns are likely to be isolated and major traffic routes likely to be closed. Evacuation of people from flood-affected areas may be required.
- Office of the Queensland Chief Scientist’s Understanding Floods information.
What To Do
- Beware! An unplanned approach could result in being exposed to hazardous materials.
- Stay upwind and on high ground.
- Notify police and/or fire services.
- Avoid contact with material.
- Stay indoors and well away.
- Close doors and all windows.
- Listen to the radio for further advice.
- Evacuate only when advised by police or fire service personnel.
- Turn off all power.
Some landslides move slowly and cause damage gradually, others move so rapidly that they can destroy property and take lives suddenly and unexpectedly. Factors that contribute to landslides include saturation by water, steepening of slopes by erosion or construction and earthquake shaking.
Landslides are typically associated with periods of heavy rainfall and tend to worsen the effects of flooding that often accompany these events. In areas burned by fire, a lower threshold of rainfall may initiate landslides.
Debris flows, sometimes referred to as mudslides, are common types of fast-moving landslides. These flows generally occur during periods of intense rainfall. They usually start on steep hillsides as shallow landslides that liquefy and accelerate to speeds to about 16km/hr, but can exceed 50km/hr. The consistency of debris flows ranges from watery mud to thick, rocky mud that can carry large items such as boulders, trees and cars. Debris flows from different sources and can combine in channels, and their destructive power may be greatly increased. They continue flowing down hills and through channels, growing in volume with the addition of water, sand, mud, boulders, trees and other materials. When the flows reach flatter ground, the debris spreads over a broad area, sometimes accumulating in thick deposits that can wreak havoc in developed areas.
- Learn about the landslide risk in your area.
- Develop an evacuation plan that details the route you will use to escape a landslide, and an alternative if your main route is blocked.
- Discuss landslides and debris flow with your family.
- If your property is in a landslide risk area, contact a company specialising in geotechnical engineering, civil engineering or structural engineering for advice on corrective and protective measures.
- Become familiar with the land and structures around you so that you will notice any changes.
- Watch the patterns of stormwater drainage on slopes near your home, and especially the places where runoff water converges, increasing flow over soil-covered slopes.
- Plant ground cover and build retaining walls to limit the chances of a landslide.
- Doors or windows stick or jam for the first time.
- New cracks appear in plaster, tiles, bricks or foundations.
- Outside walls, walks or stairs begin pulling away from the building.
- Cracks slowly develop and widening on the ground or on paved areas such as streets or driveways.
- Underground utility lines break.
- Bulging ground appears at the base of a slope.
- Water breaks through the ground surface in new locations.
- Fences, retaining walls, utility poles or trees tilt or move.
- You hear a faint rumbling sound that increases in volume as the landslide nears. The ground slopes downward in one specific direction and may begin shifting in that direction under your feet.
- If you believe there is a real potential for a landslide to occur within a short period of time, call emergency services on Triple Zero (000). If you are unsure or there are no indicators of an immediate threat, contact us.
- Inform affected neighbours as they may not be aware of potential hazards. Advising them of a potential threat may help save lives. Help neighbours who may need assistance to evacuate.
- Evacuate. Getting out of the path of a landslide or debris flow is your best protection.
During a Landslide
- Move quickly out of the path of the landslide or debris flow.
- If escape is not possible, curl into a tight ball and protect your head.
After a Landslide
- Stay away from the slide area as there may be a danger of additional slides.
- Check for injured and trapped people near the slide, without entering the direct slide area. Direct rescuers to their location.
- Help neighbours who may require assistance.
- Listen to the radio and TV for the latest emergency information.
- Watch for flooding, which may occur after a landslide or debris flow. Floods sometimes follow landslides and debris flows because they may be started by the same event.
- Look for and report broken utility lines to authorities. Reporting potential hazards will get the utilities turned quickly and preventing further hazard and possible injury.
- Check the building foundations and surrounding land for damage.
- Replant damaged ground as soon as possible since erosion caused by loss of ground cover can lead to flash flooding.
- Seek the advice of a geotechnical expert for evaluating landslide hazards or designing corrective techniques to reduce landslide risk. A professional will advise you of the best ways to prevent or reduce landslide risk.
A pandemic is a global outbreak of a new disease on a worldwide scale for which there is little or no immunity in the population, and which is readily transferred between humans to produce infection in a high proportion of those exposed. This includes, but is not limited to, influenza and other newly identified viral infections such as novel coronavirus Covid-19.
There are two types of severe storms — thunderstorms and land gales. Thunderstorms can produce hail, wind gusts, flash floods, tornadoes and lightning, which can cause death, injury and damage to property. Thunderstorms are more common and generally more dangerous than land gales. Land gales are gale force winds that occur over the land.
- Be aware of severe storm patterns in your area.
- Trim trees, remove overhanging branches, clear gutters and downpipes, remove loose material and rubbish.
- Secure loose roof tiles or sheets.
- Protect skylights with wire mesh and fit shutters to glass windows and doors.
- Prepare an emergency kit.
- Check boats are securely moored or protected on land.
- Check home insurance is current and adequate including building debris clean up and disposal.
- Listen to a radio station for severe storm advice and warnings.
- Shelter and secure animals.
- Put loose garden furniture, toys, etc inside.
- Park vehicles undercover with firmly tied tarpaulins/blankets.
- Secure all external doors and windows and draw curtains.
- Keep valuables, medications, and spare clothing in plastic bags and keep your emergency kit handy.
- Disconnect all electrical items, external TV/radio aerials and computer modems.
- Listen to your radio for updates.
- Stay inside and shelter well clear of windows, doors and skylights.
- If the building starts to break up, shelter in the strongest part (cellar, internal room, hallway or built-in wardrobe) under a mattress, doona or strong table or bench.
- If outdoors, seek solid and enclosed shelter.
- If driving, stop clear of trees, power lines and streams.
- Don’t use a fixed telephone during a storm because of the lightning danger.
- Listen to your radio station for official advice and warnings.
- Check for structural property damage and make repairs.
- For emergency assistance, contact the State Emergency Service (SES) on 13 25 00 (24 hours).
- Beware of fallen powerlines and trees, damaged buildings and flooded watercourses.
- Don’t go sightseeing.