Torrential rain in Darwin is swamping a tent city set up for hundreds of Cyclone Trevor evacuees from coastal communities where the monster system is bearing down.
- Cyclone Trevor is expected to make landfall on Saturday
- Residents have been given emergency accommodation in Darwin and Katherine
- Those who remain behind have been urged to take shelter in “strong houses”
Up to 2,000 people from Northern Territory communities in the Gulf of Carpentaria are currently in evacuation centres in Katherine and Darwin this morning, safe from the threat of tropical Cyclone Trevor.
Salvation Army captain Erica Jones voiced the frustration of many: “This rain is not helpful”.
“Look, I think it’s just going to make it uncomfortable for the people who are staying in tents at this stage, and getting to and from the different areas that we are able to house people at the moment,” Ms Jones said.
Four military aircrafts have assisted in evacuating the entire township of Borroloola and the communities of Robinson River and Numbulwar.
Cyclone Trevor is expected to make landfall tomorrow, in what the Bureau of Meteorology forecast to be a “severe impact on the south-western Gulf of Carpentaria coast”.
A flood watch has been issued for Carpentaria Coastal Rivers and the Barkly, with rainfall expected to increase in the eastern Carpentaria Coastal Rivers from Saturday as Cyclone Trevor crosses the coast in the south-western Gulf of Carpentaria and tracks inland.
Predicted rainfalls of 150-250 millimetres and isolated falls to 300mm along the coast were forecast for Saturday, potentially triggering floods in the Barkly and cutting off remote Indigenous communities.
Evacuees filling up sites in Darwin and Katherine
At the Darwin Showgrounds, hundreds have been given emergency accommodation after being flown in from Groote Eylandt and the Borroloola areas.
The Australian Defence Force flew the last of the evacuees into Darwin last night.
A tent city has been erected by the army next to the Marrara indoor basketball centre, which was being used as a registration and processing hub for the evacuees.
A second evacuation centre has been set up at the Katherine Showgrounds, where up to 800 people were now believed to be based.
“I’ve just had a call up from [people in] Katherine, who are completely inundated,” Ms Jones said.
“They had the capabilities of feeding 300 and, last I checked, 800 had arrived.
“These are self-evacuees, so I’ve just had a call from the Salvation Army officer who has put in a plea for any volunteers down there to make themselves known.”
Tweet from @BOM_NT: Tropical Cyclone Trevor will continue to intensify off the western Peninsular coast as it moves southwest.
McArthur River mine currently being evacuated
McArthur River mine will be evacuated today, as well as any people remaining in Borroloola.
NT Police regional controller Travis Wurst said there were now “no other areas that need to evacuate”.
“We have moved people out of Blue Mud Bay, the communities there, into Nhulunbuy,” he said.
“There is no need for anyone living on the Central Arnhem Road to evacuate, we have got information that suggest people in Bulman and those surrounding communities, have started to evacuate themselves.
“There is no accommodation for those people in our evacuation centres because they are not what we consider to be affected communities.”
He advised that due to the current tracking of the cyclone there was now no requirement for residents at both Groote Eylandt and Nhulunbuy to be evacuated.
Groote residents seeking shelter
The massive logistical effort is now complete, with more than 600 residents from Groote Eylandt in Darwin.
But a further 400 remain in Groote Eylandt, where they have been told to take shelter in “strong houses” today.
Mornington Island, which is also in Trevor’s firing line on the Queensland side of the Gulf, is not undergoing evacuation.
The Queensland Government said it had no plans to evacuate the island, which has a population of about 1,000 people, despite similar moves in NT Gulf communities.
The news comes after a state of emergency was declared in the Northern Territory in anticipation of Cyclone Trevor, which prompted the largest mass evacuation since 1974’s Cyclone Tracy.
Today emergency services will be finalising evacuations and preparing for the arrival of the cyclone.
After the danger has passed authorities will begin the task of surveying the damage and prepare for any rescue or recovery operations.
Cyclone Trevor was expected to strengthen to a category four or five system as it moved across the Gulf.