Communities struggling three months after Cyclone Debbie

Three months after the massive category four Cyclone Debbie crossed the north Queensland coast, Red Cross continues to reach out to people still struggling to pick up the pieces.


Cyclone Debbie caused widespread damage and flooding in north and south Queensland and northern New South Wales, killing at least 12 people and causing more than $2 billion damage. 


Since making landfall near Airlie Beach on 28 March 2017 Red Cross has helped more than 23,000 people in affected Queensland towns, mobilising more than 2,300 specially trained emergency services staff and volunteers to help where the need was greatest.


In all, Red Cross people have been on the ground in more than 50 locations, lending humanitarian support and essential information.


We provide psychosocial support: we’re there with a listening ear, a friendly face, information and connection, to help people reduce distress and cope with the situation. We do this at the height of the emergency in cyclone and evacuation shelters, going door-to-door in affected areas, in community centres, recovery hubs and at community events,” Red Cross Queensland Director Leisa Bourne said.


Our long experience in emergencies shows that one of the most distressing things about being caught up in a disaster is being separated from loved ones,” she said.


Our Register.Find.Reunite service was activated, with people encouraged to register if they had lost contact with a loved one. In all we received 1,965 registrations and were able to connect 68 people who had no other way of knowing if a loved one was safe and well.”


Ms Bourne said people can take years to recover from traumatic events such as natural disasters and Red Cross has committed to walking alongside the communities and supporting affected people for the years to come.


This includes Logan and surrounds, Mackay and the Whitsundays where we are investing in additional recovery specialists to work alongside the community, driving recovery efforts on the ground.


It’s recognition that recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. We’re staying, embedded into affected communities to most effectively support people,” he said. “Whether this means supporting community barbeques and other events, door-knocking to check in on folks, or advocating for community outcomes, we’re staying right where we’re needed.”


In Queensland, Red Cross has also telephoned around 1,400 people affected by this event, checking in on their welfare and offering any additional information they need. Red Cross helped in two cyclone shelters, managed 13 evacuation centres, supported 9,000 people across six recovery centres and 1700 people across four Community Recovery and Referral Information Centres (CRRICs) and has delivered services through outreach to over 5,800 people.


It’s been the biggest Red Cross response to a natural disaster since the Queensland floods of 2011. 


If you or someone you know has been affected by this - or any - emergency, Red Cross has resources to help you recover at


To help Red Cross provide valuable disaster assistance in times of emergency, you can donate to emergency response and recovery work across Australia at or by calling 1800 811 700.


2 July 2017.