EARLY on Christmas morning 1974 – devastating winds of 217km/h pummeled the city of Darwin, leaving 71 people dead, hundreds injured and flattening more than 70% of the city’s buildings.
“It was an emergency of an unprecedented scale in Australia,” says Australian Red Cross Emergency Services Manager NT Paul Mitchell. “Red Cross volunteers and staff poured in from all over the country to help Darwin.
“Red Cross worked with the community for months and years afterwards as people tried to deal with the aftermath and rebuild their lives – recovery is a long, painful and difficult process.”
In Australia most natural disasters, whether they be bushfires, like the Black Saturday Bushfires in Victoria, or cyclones like Tracy, happen over the summer months.
“Anniversaries like this can be difficult to deal with. As we stop and remember those who lost their lives and those who survived this tragic event, if there is some action we can take from that it’s that we all need to be prepared,” Mr Mitchell said.
“Disasters on the scale of Cyclone Tracy will always have the potential for grave destruction. Disasters are unpredictable and indiscriminate, we can’t change that, but we can all be prepared.”
There are four simple steps everyone can take to greatly reduce the impact and stress of a disaster, giving them some of the support and resources to better cope afterwards – it can make all the difference. “Being prepared means understanding the risks, being connected to your community and neighbours, and having an emergency plan and a kit.”
Red Cross has many free downloadable resources – including planning templates and activity sheets – on its website to help you plan, visit redcross.org.au.
To do its vital work Red Cross relies on volunteers and donors. You can support Red Cross by giving monthly, leaving a bequest in your will or making a one-off donation at redcross.org.au or by calling 1800 811 700.