The Australian Defence Force has helped shelter hundreds of evacuees at Katherine Showgrounds as part of the largest ever pre-cyclone evacuation in the Northern Territory (NT).
Evacuees from remote communities have been pouring into the NT’s second largest town as Tropical Cyclone Trevor barrels towards the coast and East Arnhem Land.
Royal Australian Air Force personnel from RAAF Base Tindal and Australian Army personnel from the 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (5 RAR) worked tirelessly setting up tents and stretcher beds to house hundreds of displaced people.
5 RAR infantry soldier Corporal Jason Finch, said that multiple Army trucks transported hundreds of tents, stretchers and a forklift from Darwin the Katherine by road.
“We are currently erecting tents and getting the stretchers inside the tents, so we're trying to beat the storm as we speak,” Corporal Finch said.
“We have the SES helping too, along with the police force. It is good to get multiple agencies involved and to see how everyone runs together, working as a collaboration.”
Borroloola evacuee, Mr Keith Rory said that residents had cause for concern, having learnt from the infamous 1974 Cyclone Tracy just how devastating a cyclone can be.
“I’m from Borroloola, from the Garawa Clan group. I've been living there for nearly all my life,” Mr Rory said.
“As soon as we heard about the cyclone was going to develop, we got the police force coming around - ‘Start getting your gear and whoever wants to fly-up, come to the police station and get your tag ready so you can jump on the plane’ - so we drove away yesterday afternoon at 4pm.
“Really scary this one,” the Borroloola local said worriedly.
“Will be a shame when we go back and see the damage you know, a real shock. Not only us but the whole of the town of Borroloola residents who come in to do shopping and fly out and fly in.”
Mr Rory said that he appreciated the help they were receiving from the uniformed members building the emergency shelter tents behind him.
“Army and Air Force and NORFORCE all working together, it’s really good,
“Make sure you stand strong, you know. You actually gotta,” Mr Rory said.
Before bedding down for the night at the Katherine evacuation centre, Mr Rory paid his respects to all the traditional owners of the Katherine region, past and present.