Types of disasters



Tropical Cyclones are the most severe storms with strong winds, heavy rain and ocean storm surge, which have the potential to cause extensive property damage. Cyclones vary greatly in character but the one feature they all have in common is a calm centre. This centre or “eye” is an area made up of light winds and often-clear skies. However beware, this is not the end of the cyclone as very destructive winds from the other direction can follow. Remain inside, listen to your radio until the all clear is given by Emergency Services. For more information about cyclones visit the BOM website.


Storm Surge

Along with high winds and flooding rains, cyclones produce storm surges, (a raised dome of water) stretching up to 100kms long, 50kms wide and typically two to five metres higher than the normal tide level. All cyclones produce storm surges but not all are dangerous. If the surge occurs at the same time as a high tide then the area inundated can be quite extensive, particularly in low-lying areas. Council has produced storm tide mapping as a part of the Emergency Action Guide. For more information about storm surges visit the BOM website.


Flooding (Riverine and Local)

Localised or flash flooding is usually a result of torrential rain causing drainage systems to reach capacity very quickly and overflow. Riverine flooding on the other hand is when a river bursts its banks causing nearby areas to flood.

The Mackay Local Government area is subject to extreme rainfall between the months of October and May. Due to the short, intense nature of events and the close proximity of the Pioneer River catchment, it places the city and surrounding communities in an extremely vulnerable position. At times, this may result in mass evacuations of the community. Residents need to be prepared to immediately evacuate if ordered or if they feel in danger.


Bush fires

Bush fires and vegetation fires pose a threat to homes, businesses, other properties and crops throughout the region. This includes urban residential areas adjoining large areas of grass and bush land. Residents should ensure that they have a Bush fire Survival Plan. The fire danger season in this region normally commences in August and continues until the end of January or when adequate rainfall is received to lessen the danger period. It is your responsibility to prepare yourself, your family, your home and property for the threat of fire. For more information about bush fire safety visit the Queensland Rural Fire Service website.



Tsunamis are very rare in Australia, recorded only about once every two years, and most of these are small and present little threat of land inundation. However, even a small tsunami can pose a threat to swimmers and mariners. The Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre is responsible for monitoring, verifying and warning the public of any tsunami threat to the coastline of Australia and its offshore territories. Visit the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre website to keep up-to-date on all the latest tsunami warnings for Australia or find out more information.



A landslide is the movement of a mass of rock, debris or earth down a slope. Landslides are triggered either by natural causes such as heavy rainfall or by human activity. They can pose a serious risk to humans who get caught in the middle of them and can result in serious injury and even death. For more information about Landslide Awareness visit Emergency Management Australia.



Earthquakes are the vibrations caused by rocks breaking under stress. The underground surface along which the rock breaks and moves is called a fault plane. Earthquakes in Australia are usually caused by movements along faults as a result of compression in the Earth’s crust. Earthquakes pose a particularly challenging risk to Australian communities in that they are relatively rare events but have the potential to cause catastrophic losses. For more information about earthquakes visit the Gio-science Australia website.


Man-made accidents

The community should not only be prepared for natural disasters but also man-made disasters such as industrial accidents, hazardous materials accidents/spills, marine oil spills, exotic disease/epidemics and pandemics. Should an incident occur that requires the public to take specific actions information will be released via media outlets and council’s website.