All eyes were on Tropical Cyclone ITA last week as she developed rapidly into a severe category 5 storm and headed for the far north coast of Queensland.
Ita crossed the coast at Cape Flattery late on Friday evening and headed straight for Hopevale Community where it caused considerable damage to property and vegetation in the area. It then tracked further south and dealt Cooktown a blow before passing over Wujal Wujal, Bloomfield and surrounding areas.
Black Star kept the information flowing throughout the two nights of Ita’s southerly track from Hopevale down to Cairns and Cardwell. The WAN connection to each of the affected communities allowed the system to stay on the air despite heavy rain that would otherwise block out satellite reception and cause signal black outs.
Locally specific messages were placed on local community transmitters with the help of local RIBS staff and these messages helped keep people informed of local emergency plans and procedures. Our services were able to stay on until the power failed at the local sites. The need for emergency power at remote sites is on the QRAM agenda and we hope that one day each of the Cape Communities will have systems in place that will allow people to stay informed even in the worst storms and natural disasters. Without power, there are no radio or TV services operating in remote communities and people are left literally in the dark. A frightening experience when a storm of this magnitude comes your way.
This was not the first cyclone to bear the name Ita in Queensland waters – on February 23-24 1997 a system developed off shore from Cairns and tracked south east landing as a category 1 storm just south of Townsville.