Disaster dossier revealed

Dominique BayensGeraldton Guardian

A disaster planning report has revealed the Mid West and Gascoyne are highly vulnerable to cyclones, floods and road crashes.

The Office of Emergency Management released a report last week highlighting potential disaster impacts based on “worst-case hazard scenarios” in the region.

The Midwest-Gascoyne Emergency Management Committee identified animal or plant pests or diseases, fire, cyclone, earthquake, flood and road crash as the six priority hazards for the area. According to the report, cyclone and flood “stand out as having the highest number of high-risk statements” with 51 per cent and 38 per cent respectively.

The earthquake scenario was revealed to be likely to result in catastrophic consequences for buildings, potentially causing more than $370 million in damage.

“These catastrophic consequences may stretch, or outstrip, the district’s current resources and capabilities,” the report said.

“The other natural hazards (flood, cyclone and bushfire) also would cause significant damage to buildings across the district.”

A potential outbreak of foot and mouth disease was identified as having the biggest economic risk, causing impacts to the export market for up to 10 years.

“This event would also have national and international implications and would affect a broad range of industries,” the profile said.

For all of the hazards, except animal and plant biosecurity, response agencies will require additional resources from outside the management district to respond, according to the report.

“In terms of health services, Geraldton Hospital has a limited number of acute or intensive care facilities, so patients would need to be taken to Perth for treatment,” it said.

The risk assessment report was part of seven profiles for each of the emergency management districts in WA.

The reports were the result of collaboration between 119 agencies and 406 participants.

Office of Emergency Management executive director Mal Cronstedt said the district-wide reports were the first of their kind in WA.

“The focus now is how to better invest in mitigation to endeavour to lessen or prevent the impacts,” he said.

He said the forecast annual cost of natural disasters in Australia was expected to rise from $6.3 billion currently to about $23 billion a year by 2050.

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