Storms and Cyclones

Overview

Do not use this information for emergency situations. In emergencies, please refer to the Bureau of Meteorology warning page. 

Fire or life threatening emergencies: 000 

DFES Emergency Information: 13 3337 

SES Emergency Assistance: 132 500 

Stay up to date 

Preparation 

The cyclone season extends from November 1 to April 30. Before this period some important measures should be taken:  

  • Start preparing for cyclone season by clearing your yard of any objects that may be picked up by heavy winds and cause damage. 
  • Trees of excess height and growth need to be trimmed to withstand excessive winds. 
  • Drains should be cleared of rubbish and obstructions. 
  • Emergency supplies including tinned food, torches, batteries, portable radios and drinking water should be gathered. 
  • Decisions about where best to keep your pets should be made. 

Information pamphlets and other resources are also available at the Shire office - feel free to drop in and pick up a copy. 

The Local Emergency Management Arrangements can be downloaded here: LEMA(PDF, 804KB) .

 

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During a cyclone or significant weather event 

If required, evacuation centres and emergency accommodation is provided by the Department of Communities.  

When a BLUE ALERT has been issued, you need to start preparing: 

  • Keep up to date with the development of the cyclone through radio, television or internet. 
  • Review your cyclone plan and check your household knows what to do. 
  • Prepare your home inside and out. 
  • Secure trailers, garden sheds, outdoor furniture, trampolines, rainwater tanks, LPG bottles, loose material, rubbish, boats and caravans. 
  • Find out when shops and businesses will close and when to collect your children from school. 
  • Organise your emergency kit including first aid kit, essential medications, torch, portable radio, spare batteries, food and water. 
  • Identify the strongest part of your house or the closest welfare centre. 
  • Identify a safe place for your pet. 
  • Check in with family, friends and neighbours to make sure they’re preparing too. 

When a YELLOW ALERT has been issued, you need to take action: 

  • Monitor radio, television or internet for information on the cyclone’s progress, particularly any storm surge advice. 
  • Get ready to shelter in place or evacuate to a safer place. 
  • Put fuel in your vehicle and park it in a sheltered area. 
  • Fasten all cyclone screens and board up or heavily tape exposed windows. 
  • Close curtains and lock doors. 
  • Ensure pets and animals are in a safe area. 
  • If you live in a low lying area where there is risk of storm surge damage, you may be advised to relocate now.  
  • Be aware that shops will be closing.
  • Prepare to move quickly to the strongest part of your house or relocate to the nearest welfare centre if required. 

When a RED ALERT has been issued, you need to take shelter immediately: 

  • Stay in the strongest, safest part of the building. 
  • Keep doors and windows closed and stay away from them. 
  • Keep your emergency kit with you. 
  • Keep listening to your portable radio for information on the cyclone’s progress. 
  • Disconnect electrical appliances and turn off gas supply valves. 
  • Stay inside until the ALL CLEAR is given by authorities. 

When an official ALL CLEAR notice is issued, you need to take care to avoid dangers caused by damage 

  • When on the road, drive slowly, obey road closure signs and do not drive into water of unknown depth. 
  • Watch for emergency services personnel and follow their instructions. 
  • Be careful of fallen powerlines and trees, broken water and sewerage pipes, loose roof sheeting and other material. 
  • Do not walk, swim or play in floodwaters as they are dangerous. 
  • Protect your feet with closed shoes. 
  • Stack loose material clear of water meters, valves and powerlines. 
  • Keep electricity and all electrical and gas appliances turned off until checked by a qualified tradesperson. 
  • Never use matches, cigarette lighters or naked flames when entering a building. 
  • Take photos for insurance purposes and contact your insurance company. 

Do not enter your property if it is seriously damaged. It may be unsafe. Call the State Emergency Service on 132 500 for assistance.   

For life threatening emergencies call 000. 

Public Health After a Cyclone or Storm 

Water, mud and silt can contain a range of bacteria and viruses that can make you or your family sick. Illnesses may include:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Skin infections
  • Soft tissue infections.

Heavy rains can make surfaces such footpaths, roads and floors very slippery. Fall injuries are not unusual during clean-ups. Hazards also can occur when cyclonic winds lift a range of materials and debris such as:

  • Fences
  • Roofs
  • Electricity cables
  • Cars.

It is important that you take proper precautions to prevent illness and injury:

  • Always wear protective clothing, such as boots, gloves and a face mask when cleaning.
  • Do not expose broken skin or cuts to dirty water, mud or silt.
  • Do not use petrol or diesel-powered equipment, such as generators or pumps, in enclosed spaces.
  • Be alert to snakes, spiders and rats that may have taken refuge in your home.
  • Make sure your immunisations, especially tetanus, are up-to-date.
  • Always wash your hands and any part of your body that has been exposed to dirty water, mud or silt, especially before eating or preparing food.
  • Wear a mask when working with heavy mould.
  • Never touch electric wires, even if you think they are not live.

You need to seek medical attention if you do become ill or injure yourself, particularly if any cut becomes painful and red and if you develop a fever.

Water

If in doubt about the safety of drinking water, boil water before consumption.

Bore Water

Following flooding, the condition of a garden bore system or water storage tank may be compromised by floodwater entering the system. Bore water should not be used for drinking or food preparation following flooding. However, some people use bore water for irrigation or laundry purposes. If this is the case, you will need to disinfect the water from the bore pump to the storage tank. The following disinfection procedure is recommended.

If the tank is clean:

If the storage tank is clean, add 1.5 grams of dry pool chlorine per 1000 litres of water to ensure it is safe to use.

If the tank has been contaminated:

If the tank has been contaminated, you should add 150 grams per 1000 litres for turbid (cloudy) water or 75 grams per 1000 litres for clear water.

  • The mixture should be left to stand in the tanks for four hours.
  • The tank should then be drained. Do not drink this water.
  • You can now refill the tank adding 1.5 grams of dry pool chlorine per 1000 litres.

Swimming Waters

After a flood or large rain event, swimming waters – including beaches, estuaries and rivers – are likely to be contaminated with pollutants from streets, sewage and chemicals that are washed into waters via stormwater systems. There is an increased level of harmful bacteria, unpredictable currents, fast flowing water and submerged hazards that are very dangerous. Swimming should be avoided for at least 1-2 days after heavy rains.

Never swim in or attempt to drive through floodwaters.

Shellfish

Shellfish includes oysters, mussels, clams, pipis, scallops, cockles, and razor clams.

After a flood or heavy rain, it is almost certain that harmful microorganisms and toxins will be present in waterways (including rivers, lakes, estuaries and the ocean) due to run-off from the land. Do not eat shellfish from flood-affected waters as they can make you sick.

Fishing

Fish caught during flood periods should be rinsed prior to scaling and filleting. Fish should be cooked thoroughly. You should avoid cross contamination between raw and cooked fish.

Swimming Pools

Following a disaster, swimming pools should either be emptied or kept chlorinated with levels of between 2-5ppm to prevent the water quality from deteriorating. Contaminated swimming pools can be:

  • A source of odours and bacteria.
  • A breeding place for mosquitoes.
  • A risk to people who use them.

Septic Tanks

Flood waters or heavy rains may affect your septic tank system, which is also known as an onsite wastewater system. Failed systems are not easy to identify. However, some simple indicators may include:

  • A pungent odour around the tank and land application area.
  • Blocked fixtures, with wastewater overflowing from the relief point.
  • High sludge levels within the primary tank.
  • Sewage flowing up through the toilet and sinks.

Some onsite wastewater treatment systems may rely on mechanical and electrical equipment, such as pumps, aerators and filters. This equipment may be damaged by flood or loss of power.

To prevent injury or further damage to your system contact your service agent.

If your system is not operating properly, or you are unsure, do not use any toilets, laundry, kitchen, bathroom or clean-up equipment connected to the onsite wastewater disposal system until all parts of the wastewater treatment and disposal system have been professionally inspected and repaired.

How can my septic tank be repaired?

Only trained specialists are suitably equipped to clean or repair onsite waste disposal systems. This is because tanks may contain dangerous gases and other harmful materials.

Aerated Wastewater Treatment System

Aerated wastewater treatment systems (AWTS) should not be used if it has been inundated with floodwater. Isolate the electrical connection and call the service technician immediately.

Sewage Overflows

In all situations where a sewage overflow (also referred to as wastewater overflow) clean up procedure is needed for your property, persons involved in the clean-up procedure should wear personal protective clothing such as rubber boots, rubber gloves and washable or disposable coveralls. Unprotected persons should be evacuated from the affected area until the area has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Other safety precautions to be followed include:

  • Assume anything touched by wastewater is contaminated.
  • Immediately wash and disinfect any wounds that come into contact with wastewater.
  • Change out of dirty clothes and wash clothes separately.
  • Clean and dry dirty footwear.
  • Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any illness.
  • Wash your hands and affected areas of the body thoroughly with clean warm water and soap, especially before eating or smoking.

Mosquito Control

Stagnant water left behind by floods and rain provides an excellent breeding ground for mosquitoes.

This increases the risk of mosquito-borne diseases such as Ross River virus (RRV) and Barmah Forest virus (BFV). In the north of Western Australia there is also the potential for the rare, but potentially fatal, Murray Valley encephalitis (MVE).

Mosquitoes can breed around your home, they will lay their eggs in fresh or salty water, and often in containers that hold water. Common breeding sites include pot plant drip trays, gutters, ponds, pet water bowls, old tyres, rubbish, containers and pools that are not well maintained.

Stop mosquitoes breeding around your home by following these simple steps:

  • Empty out or discard containers and rubbish that may hold water.
  • Clean out roof gutters to prevent water from pooling.
  • Empty, clean and refill bird baths, stock troughs and pet water bowls at least once a week.
  • Keep swimming pools properly maintained and free of debris.
  • Empty wading pools at the end of each day.
  • Stock backyard ponds with fish to eat mosquito larvae.
  • Cover rainwater and septic tank openings, wells or other large water containers with mosquito-proof mesh.
  • Keep edges of ponds clear of vegetation.

You can make a difference by preventing mosquitoes breeding around your home.

Food safety after cyclones, floods and other disasters

When disasters cause the power to go out, it generally means the food in your fridge will start to go off.

Unless food can be stored below 4 °C within 2 hours of a power cut, all potentially hazardous foods like meat and dairy  that are typically stored in the fridge need to be placed in alternative cold storage, eaten immediately or disposed of appropriately. 

If in doubt, throw it out!

Floodwater may have contaminated your vegetable or herb garden with bacteria, chemicals or other dangerous substances. Some vegetables may still be all right to eat. The Department of Health recommends disinfecting in hot water, peeling and cooking the produce to prevent food borne illness. 

Mould

When drying out the house after floods or heavy rain damage:

  • Open doors and windows to let the house air out for as long as possible.
  • Once power is restored use fans and dehumidifiers to dry out the house.
  • Air-conditioning or central heating should not be used unless they are undamaged and uncontaminated by the floodwaters. If you suspect contamination with mould or floodwaters, do not use these systems until they have been cleaned and checked by a qualified person.

Mould removal efforts should focus on:

  • Removing all sources of pooled water or excessive moisture from the home.
  • Removing all wet or flood damaged materials or items that cannot be adequately dried or cleaned, including wallpaper, plasterboard, carpet rugs, bedding, mattresses, furniture, stuffed toys, clothing, wet or damaged materials.
  • Removing all porous (soft or absorbent) materials with mould growth.
  • Temporarily storing damaged or discarded items outside the home (in a safe, clean, dry place such as a shed or garage) until your insurance claim is processed.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting all affected surfaces inside the house, including: floors, walls, kitchen, bathroom, laundry.
  • Allowing the house to dry throughout by airing or active drying (for example fans or dehumidifiers).

If you intend to clean up mouldy areas, it is recommended that you wear a shower cap, goggles and P1 or P2 particulate face respirator, to prevent breathing in mould spores.