Cyclone Jasper – FNQ Flooding and Rainforest Rescue
Cyclone Jasper packed a punch with winds and rain, and then more rain, and then still more rain. And yet, miraculously, the nursery weathered the storm just fine. Built to last and in a well-drained area. Miraculous.
All of the Rainforest Rescue team are accounted for, and are for the most part, safe and sound. Most got through unscathed, though some were flooded out of their homes and we’re doing all we can to support them. Jasper went from a Cyclone to a Tropical Storm in a few days – then it sat over the region where it dumped record rainfalls and flooded areas from Innisfail to Cooktown.
The Daintree River at Daintree Village peaked at 14.85 metres early Monday morning, more than 2 metres higher than the previous record (12.60 m in January 2019).
Across the Mossman and Bloomfield River catchments, river levels remain elevated. As of Tuesday (19 December) morning the rainfall at Diwan, where our old nursery is located, was 829mm in one 24 hour period. This flood is 40% higher than the 1977 flood and is officially now the most extreme flood event by far since record-keeping began in the region.
Numerous roads are damaged or not passable across the region. The airport is closed in Cairns. The Indigenous community at Wujal Wujal, north of Cape Tribulation and south of Cooktown, are in need of evacuation as many have been stranded on rooftops and in trees.[Update 21.23 – Having spoken with CEO of Jabalbina, Joshua Paterson, it’s clear that Wujal Wujal has been devastated. Evacuations are finally happening with the reduction of rain and community members have lost everything. Please refer to Jabalbina’s Facebook page for more information on what’s happening now. Donations of support can be made here.]
The Daintree River is not reachable, let alone navigable, and the ferry service is shut for the duration of the flood. In cities like Cairns and Mossman, water supplies are contaminated and drinking water is the next big concern. Roads are impassable to the North, South and West… If you want in or out, it’s by helicopter or by sea to the East.
Our friend and Captain of the Solar Whisper Daintree River Cruise, David White, has been posting regular updates, despite the connectivity issues FNQ are experiencing, and yesterday (19 Dec 2023) he posted this:
Today the big thing in the sky came out (the sun). Some of us still have no power, mobile, water or internet but we are fine. Many people haven’t heard from loved ones and are worried, please know the SES and locals are doing and have done a phenomenal job. I have a spot I can drive to get internet and mobile but some people won’t have this and that’s why you haven’t heard from them. Some people it has hit way worse than others and they have lost a lot, some lost everything but still alive.
Big thanks to David for these regular updates, as well as the imagery he is sharing (two of which are included in this blog). You can find David on Facebook and Instagram if you’d like to follow the recovery efforts from home.
HOW YOU CAN HELP THE COMMUNITY
Despite the cyclone and flooding, we have been quite lucky as both an organisation and as individuals, yet so many in the region have not been as fortunate. It has been the response from the community – neighbours looking after neighbours – that has really softened the blow. People are going to continue to need our help, and there are a number of local initiatives you can direct your financial and material contributions to.
GIVIT is collecting and distributing donations, both financial and material. They also ensure only requested items are sent through to ensure the most needed items go to the community.
‘Cairns Community Flood Appeal 2023’, a Facebook group created by Cairns locals, is accepting material donations. They have set up a donation drop point at Cairns Cruising Yacht Squadron. Please check the group posts for details on what is needed and only donate items in good condition (i.e., if you wouldn’t gift it to a friend, please don’t donate it).
Our conservation partners, Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation, are mobilising all Rangers to assist with the rescue and recovery efforts. To donate directly to Jabalbina in support of these efforts, please click here.
Looking for support services? We’ve included some helpful links below:
- Cairns Region Regional Community Support Services
- Mareeba Region Regional Community Support Services
- Innisfail Region Regional Community Support Services
- Disaster Recovery Funding
- Housing Assistance
- Personal Hardship Financial Assistance
We also recommend staying on top of the information published via each local council’s ‘Disaster Dashboard’ websites, with up to date information on flood-affected areas.
- Cairns Regional Council
- Cassowary Coast Regional Council
- Cook Shire Council
- Douglas Shire Council
- Hope Vale Aboriginal Shire Council
- Mareeba Shire Council
- Tablelands Regional Council
- Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire Council
- Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council
Climate change is very real – it is here. We are living it.
As the Big Wet unfolds in FNQ, I was looking at the post we shared back in March 2022, only a year ago. Last year a HUGE weather event saw the most extreme flooding in the Northern Rivers of New South Wales ever. What we stated then holds true now:
As our long-time friend and former board member, Sue Higginson, MP, wrote in The Guardian on Tuesday 1 March 2022, as the rain continued to fall: “We need to look towards the future and decide what kind of future we want. Climate change has happened, it is going to get worse – the decision is how much worse do we want this to get.”
We know what kind of future we want.
We want a greener, more resilient future. And for our part and to that end, we are continuing to grow and plant more trees to help mitigate the impacts of global warming. We will continue to buy back rainforest parcels in the Daintree, protecting these vital ecosystems from development, and providing assured habitat as well as a buffer for the heart of the Daintree, as we all adapt.
We will keep doing what you expect from us – and what we demand of ourselves: protecting rainforests forever.
Look after one another – look after your neighbours – look after yourselves.
We are stronger together.
And together, we are Rainforest Rescue.
We’re still waiting to learn more about the state of things as the waters seem to now be receding, but know that your concerns have been warmly received and hugely appreciated.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR CONCERN AND YOUR CARE. IT MEANS THE WORLD TO US!
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