Emergency strategy set out for severe cyclone

By SHAN GOODWIN

shan.goodwin@northernstar.com.au

EMERGENCY services have plans in place to deal with the consequences of a category three cyclone hitting the Northern Rivers.

Hurricane Rita, which last month ripped into America's Gulf Coast, was a category three and climate experts are warning it is inevitable the Northern Rivers will experience a cyclone of that magnitude in the future.

The State Emergency Service has a comprehensive plan covering warnings, preparations, responses and recovery for cyclones.

Evacuation of residents would be a priority in the event of a category three cyclone, a spokesperson said.

Ballina and Richmond Valley councils have not yet formed any policy for strategically dealing with a category three cyclone.

But they say they are well aware of the substantial climate changes the region is facing.

Executive strategic planner with Ballina Council Steve Barnier said a new sustainability strategy for the shire was underway and one of the issues would be what climate changes meant to the town. Discussion papers on the strategy are due by the middle of next year.

Richmond Valley Council manager of strategic planning Ray Medhurst said climate change was one of the things being looked at with the Evans Head Coastal Plan, due for completion at the end of next year.

Climate experts last week said Northern Rivers people should be aware of the effects of climate change and the likelihood of a more intense cyclone hitting their shores, but not panicked.

The Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO said no time frame could be put on when such a cyclone might hit the Northern Rivers but one local climatologist, John Broomhead, predicted it could be within three years.

He said the global effects of climate change had been discussed for years but 'the discussion stopped short of telling people what was likely to happen to their area'.

A category three cyclone has 178209km/h sustained winds and flooding rain.

Warmest September

WASHINGTON, (AP) ? Worldwide, it was the warmest September on record, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has said.

Averaging 0.63 degrees Celsius above normal for the month, it was the warmest September since the beginning of reliable records in 1880. The second warmest September was in 2003, with an average temperature of 0.57 degrees Celsius above the mean.



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