Staying alert to weather events

LAST week, the Sunshine Coast hosted one of its most anticipated and welcome visitors to its shores.

The last time this visitor made an appearance of any substance round these parts was about June of last year. So it was with open arms that we welcomed a downpour of rain measuring more than 200mm in most areas.

As our dams were drying up, as farmers lamented the loss of crops and desperately sought to sustain their slowly starving animals, we all fervently wished for some relief from our skies. And we have been rewarded.

But when such a benevolent visitor then arrives in this fashion after such a long break, there can be a price to pay - in potential destruction and safety issues.

Fortunately, the price this time was small, and that's because these days we are all far more aware of what can happen when a large amount of rain hits the Coast in a relatively short space of time.

The damage report amounted to a small landslip at Nambour Connection Rd, a few closed roads and minor flooding - but as we well know, it could have been much worse.

The rain gave our disaster management team a chance to road-test some updated measures to our response systems, and I am happy to say that everything went smoothly.

It is also a credit to the community that most people did the right thing by preparing, by remembering, "If it's flooded, forget it", and generally getting home safely on Thursday evening at the height of the rain.

Likewise, we have had no harrowing reports of children getting into difficulties by the attraction to fast-moving water in rivers, creeks, drains and gutters.

The inclement weather also served to remind us that, even though we are at the end of the summer season, it is not the end of the cyclone season.

Indeed, there are more challenging weather events forecast to take place in April and May.

The memory of 2010 is still fresh in most of our minds - and the chaos ensuing from the flash floods in the Maroochydore, Alex and

Kawana areas last year are a painful reminder that things can happen very quickly, with little or no warning.

We are dealing with weather patterns undergoing change, and where "weather events" are at times more frequent, more powerful, more unpredictable in their development - with all three increasingly applying.

So I ask each of you, on behalf of yourselves, your families, your pets and animals, your neighbours and the community: stay alert, stay safe and be prepared for whatever nature might throw at us during April and May.

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