Flood waters at Murwillumbah and surrounding villages in 2017. Picture: NIGEL HALLETT
Flood waters at Murwillumbah and surrounding villages in 2017. Picture: NIGEL HALLETT

You may not be able to go to evacuation centre in disaster

NORTH Coast residents are being asked to include an accommodation alternative with family or friends as part of their emergency plans for the coming bushfire and storm seasons.

Tweed Shire Council released a statement last week confirming evacuation centres will be set up if required, but to keep in line with COVID-19 restrictions the less people attending the centre, the better.

Tweed Byron Local Emergency Management Committee members have been working to implement arrangements under the current restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tweed Shire Council's Local Emergency management officer Doreen Harwood said residents should plan early and identify options to relocate during a potential disaster event.

"The bushfire season is already underway and there are good fuel loads on the ground due to early rainfalls. We are also predicted to have higher than average rainfall during storm season," the committee chair said.

"Start the conversation today about where you, your family and those you care about, including your pets, would go during an emergency.

"Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, evacuation centres will be open for the minimum time required and the focus will be on relocating evacuees to other accommodation."

NSW Department of Communities and Justice has created a variety of COVID-Safe options if evacuations are required to be determined on the day by emergency services.

These include:

  • A physical evacuation centre with COVID screening and physical distancing.
  • Intermediate assembly points where evacuees can remain in their vehicle for a short period while needs are assessed.
  • If you need to evacuate, you can register online with Register. Find. Reunite at https://register.redcross.org.au/ or listen out for the Evacuation Assistance Hotline which will be broadcast at the time of a disaster event. COVID-19 screening questions will be asked and your personal situation assessed at the assembly point.
  • "With the current COVID-19 requirements it makes for a challenging set of circumstances to manage any potential disaster event this season. Physical distancing and good personal hygiene will need to be maintained regardless of where an evacuation takes place," Ms Harwood said.
  • Evacuation centres provide for basic needs only, generally located in an open hall, with access to safe shelter, food, water and general physical and psychological first aid.