09 Feb Summer Plea: A Place of Last Resort Is for When All Else Has Failed.
The Port Campbell beach and foreshore area is not where you come during an emergency event or on a high-risk day, it’s a place of last resort when all else has failed.
That’s the Summer message from Port Campbell Police Sergeant David Banks, who is concerned many in the community have the wrong idea about what the area is designated for
– if and when a bushfire threatens the community.
“The same should be said for the Timboon and District Community Hall which is also a Bushfire Place of Last Resort – these places are for when your plans A,B,C,D,E and so on have failed.
As a last resort, in that situation, you should head there to save your life,” he said.
“The Port Campbell beach is the best of a bad choice in the worst situation and we need everyone in the community to understand that is it not a safer place to congregate at when there is a danger.
“Community safer places do not exist, refuges do exist but there are none in the Corangamite Shire and a relief centre is set up during or after an emergency, so put all these out of your thinking. We have places of last resort to be used as a last resort.”
Sergeant Banks, who is also a member of the local CFA and SES, said the community should brace for a hot, humid Summer with storm activity, the potential for flash flooding events and of course bushfires.
He said individuals and families should take time to set up an emergency grab bag with all their essentials such as a change of clothes, toiletries, a torch, radio, medication, phone chargers and anything else relevant to their needs.
“Every single person and situation is different, so there’s no one list of things to include but the CFA templates for fire kits are a good place to start,” he said.
“There will be people looking after elderly parents, neighbours, sick friends, people with pets, horses – everyone has different worries, concerns and vulnerabilities.
“You might assume your neighbour will be there for you, but their plan might be to leave and help their parents.
Everyone needs to work out their plans, spend some time talking them through and have trigger points to get yourself to safety, not the Port Campbell beach.
“If everyone heads to the foreshore, the excessive number of vehicles will impede emergency service vehicles and impacts on community safety. There are no guarantees anyone will be there to help you anyway, as emergency services could be pulled away to where they are most needed.”
Sergeant Banks said sadly on Black Saturday the middle of a green football ground was not a safe place and the best advice was to leave the area of danger completely.
“Your house and your cars and other belongings are just things. If you lost them it would be devastating, but in the end it’s just stuff,” he said.
“Unless you are prepared with solid plans to be in the area on code red or catastrophic days, just don’t be where the danger is going to be.
“Head to Melbourne, Geelong, Warrnambool or somewhere else that is larger and where there is more assistance and spend the day there.”
Sergeant Banks said while there was always a lot of focus on bushfires, there was a real likelihood of localised flooding in the area as well this Summer.
“If you see water across any road and it isn’t signed, please ring 000 and report it. Multi agencies get involved with flooding, so the Shire or VicRoads will come put warning signs out to warn others that come along after you,” he said.
“By far the most dangerous flooding is fast flowing water, but any water across a road means you don’t know if the road is even there.”