L-R: Kevin Somerville, Phil Pane (Deputy Group Leader TCB SES), and Terry Steele
For many local residents of Gympie’s coastal communities, the name ‘Terry Steele’ is synonymous with all things disaster-related. That association is due – in no small part – to Terry’s long involvement volunteering with disaster management agencies over the years.
With a background in the military, Terry was always going to be a ‘good fit’ when our small community needed someone to provide localised information during disaster events.
Initially, that need was met by Terry’s service in the SES, and later through his establishment of the Disaster Management Support Group, set up to assist with information disbursement.
Before the advent of social media (remember the good ol’ days?),Terry was the conduit of information between the coastal communities and the Gympie Local Disaster Coordination Centre – he was essentially the human equivalent of Facebook back in the day!
Fast forward a few years and we now find ourselves on the cusp of some new directions for disaster management in Queensland, thanks to reviews of our recent disaster events, response agencies, and council’s own strategic planning.
At a meeting on 14 December 2022, it was identified that disaster management functions are to be performed by agencies familiar to all Queenslanders, including the likes of Local Councils, QPS, QFES, SES, QAS and Coastguard / VMR. With some re-structures on the horizon – it was recognised that it is an exciting time to be a volunteer in the SES in particular!
Remember that during times of disaster, each of these agencies will be providing updates from their local communities to the Local Disaster Coordinator in Gympie.
In the light of these re-structures, plans have been made to align our local response arrangements with these lead agencies, with particular emphasis to promote intergenerational volunteering with the SES.
Fortunately, Terry has agreed to help with that process, meaning we all benefit from his extensive experience and local knowledge into the future – it just means you might see Terry (and long-time colleague Kevin Somerville) wearing orange in the near future!
Council would like to formally thank both Terry and Kevin for their work in this group over the years, and look forward to you both passing down your wisdom to the next generation of responders.
Members of the public are reminded that disaster information (including weather warnings) are available on council’s disaster dashboard: disaster.gympie.qld.gov.au
You also now have the option to get these weather warnings sent direct to you, by ‘opting in’ to receive these warnings typically via email. Let’s face it – being better informed is better prepared! For those inclined towards social media, council also provides updates via their Facebook page.
Should assistance be required during a disaster, the following numbers should be kept as a reference:
000 – in times of life threatening emergency (police, fire, ambulance)
131 444 – routine police requests
132 500 – SES requests relating to flood or storm damage / including sandbags
1300 307 800 – council assistance
Mick Emery, Senior Officer Disaster Management
Gympie Regional Council