The Douglas Shire is officially “open for business” after a mammoth clean-up effort following Cyclone Ita.
The Daintree ferry was reopened to the public this afternoon and both lanes of Cape Tribulation Rd can be safely accessed, meaning the entire main road network has been cleared of fallen trees and debris.
Less than 50 homes remain without power in the Douglas Shire compared to more than 2500 on Sunday.
Thousands of fallen trees have been removed from local roads and dozens of downed powerlines repaired in the four days since Cyclone Ita brought cyclonic winds and prompted major flooding in the Daintree River catchment.
The overwhelming majority of businesses in the Douglas Shire are now operating “business as usual” and tourists can appreciate all the region has to offer.
Douglas Shire Council General Manager Operations and co-ordinator of the Douglas Local Disaster Management Group, Paul Hoye, paid tribute to council staff and contractors, other agencies and local residents who all worked hard to ensure the clean-up operation was carried out as quickly, safely and effectively as possible.
“It’s been a huge effort by a lot of people to get us to this stage,” he said.
“There was a significant amount of vegetation to be cleared from the roads throughout the Shire and the initial assessment on the ferry was it might have been out of operation for more than a week.
“Council staff were able to ensure the community’s water supply remained above safe drinking standards at all times despite a large amount of fallen vegetation impacting on infrastructure and with the water treatment plant operating without mains power for three days.
“Our first use of the Port Douglas Storm Tide Cyclone Centre occurred without any problems and Council was able to provide real-time updates on the situation to the community via our website and Facebook page, as well as ABC Radio.
“There is still plenty of work to do to clear vegetation from some of our minor roads, but all in all considering the huge area we cover and the amount of fallen vegetation which needed to be cleared, the fact you can now access Cape Tribulation safely, the area worst affected by the cyclone, is a tribute to all of the people who have worked tirelessly for their community over the past four or five days.”
The Daintree River in the vicinity of the Daintree ferry will be dredged again tonight to clear the sedimentation and sand deposited by floodwaters.
The road is open to Cape Tribulation and on to the Cape Trib Beach House until further notice and motorists are urged to take extreme caution. The Bloomfield River through to Wujal Wujal is closed until advised otherwise. Some assessment on the damage north of Cape Trib Beach House is occurring this afternoon.
The Douglas Local Disaster Management Group will hold a debrief on their response next month to ensure the Douglas Shire is even better prepared for the next cyclone season.