Prior to each cyclone season, Douglas Shire residents need to develop a Household Emergency Plan that includes evacuation and shelter considerations based on their circumstances and exposure to risk.

What is your risk?

  • Consider the location of your home.
    Council has identified areas that may need to evacuated if a storm tide or localised flooding threatens. Find out if you live in a storm tide evacuation zone by visiting the Disaster Dashboard. If you live in an evacuation zone, you need to plan and prepare now so you can quickly evacuate and shelter in a safer place.
  • Consider the construction and condition of your home.
    Do you live in an older home (built before 1982) that is poorly maintained, or do you live in a caravan or temporary dwelling?
    If you do, you need to plan and prepared now so you can quickly evacuate and shelter in a safer place when the need arises.
  • Consider your needs.
    Do you live alone, have pets or have special needs? If you do, you need to plan and prepare now so you can quickly evacuate and shelter in a safer place when the need arises.

Knowing when to evacuate

  • For a storm tide or flood hazard, if you are within a red, orange or yellow zone, your property is at risk of storm tide surge during a cyclone. You should prepare to evacuate when Emergency Services issue an evacuation order.
  • Emergency Services will inform you. Listen to your local radio station. Street patrols and door knocking by emergency services may also occur.

Consider your shelter and evacuation options

  • Shelter in Place
    If you live in a well constructed home located outside of a storm tide evacuation zone, your best option is to plan and prepare to shelter in place in your home with your family, friends and pets. It is important you identify the strongest, most protected part of your home to shelter in. This is usually the smallest room in the house with the least number of windows and external walls such as the bathroom. Use mattresses and other bedding to protect yourself and make sure your household emergency kit is in the room for the duration of the event. In a flood event, your safest room may be on a higher floor.
  • Evacuate to Shelter in a Safer Place
    If you are potentially at risk, your best option is to prearrange your evacuation so you can shelter in a safer place with friends or family. Consider commercial accommodation or shelter options in your community as a last resort. Accommodation providers will advise their guests of arrangements.

If evacuation is not required for a storm tide and your home is well-constructed and maintained, then your best option is to shelter in place with family and friends, in your own home.
Sometimes it can be difficult to determine whether you should shelter in place (e.g. at home or at work) or evacuate to a safer location. Certain events may come with additional risks that require you to evacuate.

The following are some handy rules of thumb depending on your situation and the type of disaster or emergency:

Disaster tips

  • Cyclone/storm tide – Run from water find a place to shelter out of the wind.
  • Riverine flooding – Stay with friends in high places.
  • Bushfire – If you are going to leave, leave early.
  • Hazardous material accident – Stay upwind or stay inside.
  • Tsunami – Go inland one kilometre or go up ten metres.

Evacuation zones

There are three evacuation zones, which are determined based on modelling and previous experience of the level of inundation above the “Average Height Datum” or AHD. For these purposes, you can consider AHD to be sea level.

YELLOW ZONE – These properties face a moderate risk of coastal flooding from a storm tide. Flooding may be experienced in areas between 3m and 4.5m above AHD.
ORANGE ZONE – These properties face a high risk of coastal flooding from a storm tide. Flooding may be experienced in areas between 2m and 3m above AHD.
RED ZONE – These properties face the highest risk of coastal flooding from a storm tide. Flooding may be experienced in areas up to 2m above AHD.

Evacuation Routes

  • Plan to leave early, well before strong winds start to affect your area.
  • Avoid driving on the range roads.
  • You should not try to leave the region just before, during or immediately after a cyclone event via the Captain Cook Highway or the Mossman-Mount Molloy Road.
  • These range roads are prone to landslips and closures. You may risk your own life and that of others by travelling these routes.
  • Your emergency plan should include the most rapid route to your alternative accommodation. Do not travel more than is necessary.

Types of evacuation

There are several types of evacuation that may occur depending on the type of disaster or emergency, including:

  • Self-evacuation: No formal authority required, you could choose to self-evacuate at any time if you do not feel safe. However, please let someone know that you are evacuating and where you are going.
  • Voluntary evacuation: The Douglas Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG) in consultation with the Local Disaster Coordinator will ask people in a particular area to voluntarily evacuate if there is a threat developing. This lets people know they are in a potential danger area and allows them ample time to make a considered decision about whether to leave.
  • Directed evacuation: The Local Disaster Coordinator will issue a directed (mandatory) evacuation order when there is a definitive threat to life. You are legally bound to follow this direction and leave.

All people in the areas defined in the directed evacuation order must follow given directions. The Local Disaster Coordinator has the power to enforce the order. This power may be delegated to authorised officers in the field who will conduct the evacuation. Do not ignore this advice – the decision to issue an evacuation notice is not taken lightly.

At this stage, council will advise which evacuation centres will be opened.

Shelters and Evacuation Centres

Council has agreements to use a number of buildings throughout the Douglas region and plans as pre- and/or post-impact centres.
The Cyclone Shelter and local buildings activated as a Place of Refuge must be considered as the last option for residents that live in an evacuation zone, and after they have exhausted all other shelter options, or if they are unable to leave the warning area. Both types of facilities are intended as short-term shelter options and have very basic amenities.

Pre-impact centres includes the Port Douglas Storm Tide Cyclone Shelter

This shelter is a purpose-built facility that provides temporary shelter for people during a severe tropical cyclone, who have been evacuated from storm tide evacuation zones or wind vulnerable accommodation, and who have not been able to leave the cyclone warning zone or shelter with friends or family in modern houses (built since 1982) outside the evacuation zone.

  • This shelter has space for a pre-determined number of people and priority will be given to those who reside in a storm surge zone, are told to evacuate and have nowhere else to go. This shelter is NOT intended for people who could stay in their place of residence if that residence is not in the evacuation zones or vulnerable to high winds or storm surge.
  • The Douglas LDMG may encourage people to move from the evacuation zone in accordance with their evacuation plans, to safer areas away from the hazard or to friends and relatives in safer local areas.
  • The pre-determined maximum occupancy is based upon the available space, amenities and ventilation.

The Port Douglas Storm Tide Cyclone Shelter has limited capacity and will be used to accommodate as many people as possible. This means:

  • You will need to sit in a chair and will not be able to lie or sit on a mattress or stretcher.
  • Domestic pets and other animals are not allowed in the shelter. Note: Assistance animals are allowed into the shelter to stay with their owner.
  • Alcohol, cigarettes and all flammable liquids (lighters etc.) are banned from the shelter.
  • All personal belongings are to be kept within a backpack or small bag able to fit under a chair. Anything deemed oversized and / or unnecessary will not be permitted into the Shelter.
  • You will need to be self-sufficient and bring food (there will be no cooking facilities), medication and essential personal items. There are no cooking facilities, limited bathroom facilities and limited medical support.
  • You may be in the facility for more than 24 hours. Until the Douglas LDMG declare the cyclone has passed and it is safe to leave. To ensure the structural integrity of the building and the safety or occupants during this time, there will be no ability to enter OR leave the shelter once it is in “lock down”.
  • The Douglas LDMG will inform the public when the Storm Surge Shelter or other Places of Refuge are opened in preparation for a disaster through the media.
  • The Port Douglas Storm Tide Cyclone Shelter is located at the rear of Port Douglas State School and is available for the rest of the year for hire as a multipurpose function centre with basketball/netball court and smaller, air-conditioned meeting room and commercial kitchen. The hall holds 740 chairs.
  • For more information or to make a booking visit the Port Douglas State School website.

Place of Refuge

  • Although not purpose-built, Places of Refuge are facilities capable of providing protection for people from an impending disaster (usually a tropical cyclone), who have been evacuated from storm tide evacuation zones or wind vulnerable accommodation, and who have not been able to leave the cyclone warning zone or shelter with friends or family in modern houses (built since 1982) outside the evacuation zone.
  • These pre-impact facilities are designed to be in operation for a short period of time (up to 36 hours or when the cyclone threat has passed). If you have accessed an evacuation centre before, it may not be activated for the current disaster. Do not go to any place of refuge unless officially advised that it is open.
  • The Douglas Local Disaster Coordination Centre (LDCC) will publicly notify if any places of refuge are open via local ABC and commercial radio stations and on Council’s website and Facebook page.
  • Places of refuge are typically large public buildings such as halls. They are likely to be crowded, noisy and uncomfortable. There may also be long queues for toilets and there are no kitchen facilities. Evacuees may have to be there for several days. Alcohol, pets and weapons are not allowed.
  • Post-impact centres include:
    • Evacuation Centres: Where people may be temporarily housed before an event (other than cyclone) or after an event. Evacuation Centres are capable of providing accommodation for people that have been adversely affected by the disaster and are unable to reside in their normal place of residence following the event.
      Evacuation Centres may be in operation for a considerable period until people are returned home or otherwise relocated.
      The decision to prepare and open buildings as a Place of Refuge, Public Cyclone Shelter and Evacuation Centre is made by the Douglas LDMG and will be broadcast to the community via local media. Follow Council’s Disaster Dashboard, listen to radio or contact Council for the location of buildings designated for use during an event.

Evacuation Centres

  • Where people may be temporarily housed before an event (other than cyclone) or after an event. Evacuation Centres are capable of providing accommodation for people that have been adversely affected by the disaster and are unable to reside in their normal place of residence following the event.
  • Evacuation Centres may be in operation for a considerable period until people are returned home or otherwise relocated.
  • The decision to prepare and open buildings as a Place of Refuge, Public Cyclone Shelter and Evacuation Centre is made by the Local Disaster Management Group and will be broadcast to the community via local media. Follow Council’s Disaster Dashboard, listen to radio or contact Council for the location of buildings designated for use during an event.

Tips for when you evacuate:

  • Ensure you turn off electricity, gas and water and that your property is locked and secure.
  • Tie a light coloured cloth to your front door, letterbox, fence or other highly visible area. This will inform emergency services you have already evacuated and they do not need to expend valuable time checking.
  • If an evacuation is activated during working hours, access to your street/suburb may be restricted for incoming traffic.
  • Residents who are unable to help themselves and require evacuation may be able to register with the Council’s Evacuation and Recovery Register by contacting the Council on 4099 9444.
  • Notify a family member or friend outside of the threat area that you have evacuated and where you are going. Get this person to advise other family and friends.
  • Make arrangements for your pets.
  • DO NOT attempt to cross a flowing stream on foot if the water is above your knees.
  • If driving, know the depth of the water in a dip before crossing. The road may not be unbroken under the water.
  • A stalled vehicle can be swept away by rapidly rising water. Abandon the vehicle if necessary.
  • Avoid travelling long distances; motorists can be stranded for days at a time.
  • Remember to take your emergency kit with you.

Public Shelter Conditions of Entry

All persons seeking entry to a Public Shelter will be required to agree to conditions outlined in the Public Shelter Code of Conduct (see below).
Any person unable or unwilling to abide by these conditions will need to make alternate sheltering arrangements e.g. sheltering with family or friends located outside the storm tide evacuation zone or leaving the area that will be subject to the cyclone and storm tide impacts. Shelter occupants who do not comply with the Code of Conduct prior to lock down may be required to leave the facility. Occupants who do not comply with the Code of Conduct after lock down may be subject to prosecution.

Prohibited Items

People seeking entry to the Shelter will be required to surrender any prohibited items. You and your belongings will be searched by a Queensland Police Officer securing the facility, if officers have a reasonably belief that such items have been taken into the Shelter.

It is a condition of entry that prohibited items must not be brought into the Shelter, these include:

  • All alcohol.
  • All weapons including knives or similar edged items.
  • All illicit drugs and associated items.
  • All aerosols (except personal medications such as asthma puffers).

Public Shelter Code of Conduct

All people occupying the Shelter will:

  • Provide the required registration details to Shelter staff prior to entry to the Shelter.
  • Comply with directions of Shelter staff.
  • Not to use anything that is dangerous or interferes with the health and comfort of yourself and others (this includes the consumption of alcohol, illicit drugs or tobacco products / smoking). Non-compliance with this requirement may result in prosecution.
  • Be mindful of the large number of persons within a small space and conduct yourself in a calm manner that does not create any unnecessary disruption, disorder or conflict with fellow shelter occupants.
  • Not intentionally cause damage to Shelter building, furniture, fittings and fixtures and immediately report any accidental damage, incidents of vandalism, theft and/or other illegal activity to Shelter staff.
  • Supervise children closely. Children remain the responsibility of parents or guardians and must be accompanied to the toilets and showers by a parent or guardian.
  • Wear footwear at all times for safety and hygiene reasons.
  • Occupy the seat allocate to them by Shelter staff and stow personal items under their seat. Occupants are responsible for the security of their own valuables.
  • Keep walkways and emergency exits clear.
  • Remain in the main area of the Shelter and not enter storerooms, kitchens or office space unless requested or permitted by Shelter staff.
  • Respect others and not shout, yell or use loud obscene language.
  • Use earphones to listen to battery powered personal music or electronic devices.
  • Not use electronic devices with Shelter power outlets, unless approved by Shelter staff.
  • Maintain cleanliness and dispose of rubbish in the bins provided.
  • Notify Shelter staff of any medical emergency or other critical incidents.

Post-event support for impacted residents
Depending on the scale of the event, other sites may be established to provide short-term accommodation for impacted resident (evacuation centres) and recovery centres to support impacted residents with a range of recovery services.
Advice on the activation and location of such centres will be provided after the event by local authorities at the appropriate time.

SUMMARY
Prior to each cyclone season, Douglas residents and visitors should consider their level of risk regarding cyclones and their associated hazards and take precautionary measures to prepare themselves for sheltering and/or evacuating from their homes if necessary.

For Further information please visit:

Disclaimer: This factsheet is for information only and is provided in good faith. The Douglas Shire Council and the Queensland Government are under no liability to any person in respect of any loss or damage (including consequential loss or damage), which may be suffered or incurred or could arise directly or indirectly, in respect of reliance by any person on the information contained in this factsheet.