Can we survive cylcone strike?

By SAMANTHA HEALY

THE cyclone brewing off the Queensland coastline has the potential to wreak havoc on communities on the Tweed and Gold coasts, a leading storm expert warned yesterday.

Meteorologist, storm chaser and president of the Australian Severe Weather Association (ASWA) Anthony Cornelius said if the low continued on its path towards the Tweed, as some models have predicted, the result would be carnage.

"If it made a direct hit anywhere on the coast we really wouldn't want to know the damage it would cause," he said.

"The models are suggesting it could be severe, a category three or higher."

Mr Cornelius also questioned whether Tweed homes and other buildings were built to withstand a cyclonic onslaught.

If the low, to be named Cyclone Odette, does reach a destructive category the Tweed could be in the firing line of what is being described as the biggest storm in the region since Cyclone Dinah in 1969.

"We could expect strong winds in excess of 100 kilometres per hour and huge seas," Mr Cornelius said.

"There is the potential for much worse, depending on how low down the coast it comes. "It could hit anywhere south of Fraser Island."

Mr Cornelius said the booming population and what he claims are "questionable" building codes on the coast could mean extensive damage to homes.

"The building codes on the coast are not strong enough to withstand a category three cyclone or worse," Mr Cornelius said.

"Complacency and politics are probably to blame, and the need to keep costs down, but it might bite them on the backside.

"Buildings on the Gold and Tweed Coasts should be built to withstand a category three at least."

Earlier reports in the Daily News have highlighted just how unprepared the Tweed and Gold Coast are in the event a severe cyclone hit.

In August 2006 meteorologist Jeff Callaghan said the population explosion on the Tweed Coast since the 1954 cyclone and the combination of coast and river development would affect the levels of destruction should a "perfect storm" once again hit our coast.

Flood studies conducted by Tweed Shire Council in 2005 also highlighted just how vulnerable the region is in a severe weather event.



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