Cyclone Debbie's Long Term Effects and the Importance of Supporting Local ....

The Australian disaster zone stretched 1,000 km (600 miles) from Queensland's tropical resort islands and Gold Coast tourist strip to the farmlands of New South Wales state.

Agriculture seems to have been the hardest hit by Cyclone Debbie.  The expected financial damage is expected to exceed $1bn

In Queensland Australia, the area hit by the cyclone, produces 50% of the sugar in Australia.  The cane is waterlogged and areas have been flattened.  In the Bowen region, also known as the “food bowl”, they produce vegetables such as eggplant, beans, corn and tomato whole crops have been wiped out.  Other crops affected are sorghum, and cotton. One farm has lost over 6,000 acres (2,428 hectares) of summer crops worth about $3.8 million. All this devastation leads to long term recover over years rather than months.  One mango farmer estimates it will take him 5 years to recover.  Not only that but some farmers are only just recovering from Cyclone Ire

It is not just loss of crops but equipment and infrastructure has been badly affected.  A local farmer said he had still not fully recovered from Cyclone Yasi in 2011 and has now seen more damage to his farm.

Although livestock may not have been directly affected the knock on effect is that feedlots and dairies will have to find their feed from elsewhere and they will inevitably have to pay additional freight charges as they’ll have to go further afield.

Obviously prices in the supermarkets will rise and shortages will be felt across Australia however Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman says it is important for Australians to support their farmers.

Mr Zimmerman said it was important to remember the people hardest hit: farmers and people they employ.

"Sure it's going to cost us more to buy our groceries but in the scheme of things … when we look at the devastation that's occurred and the cost increasing for you and I as consumers … we need to step back and take some serious thought and concern," he said.

 "Our prayers and thoughts [are] with those people who may lose their life and loved ones or be completely devastated by the fact they've lost their livelihood."

 Mr Zimmerman said it was important for consumers to support farmers by continuing to buy Australian fruit and vegetables, as the farmers who had lost most of their crops might still have a small portion of goods to sell to help rebuild their business.

 "It's important for the future of the economy," he said.

This is a reminder of the “Social Capital” philosophy.

Definition - social capital


the networks of relationships among people who live and work in a particular society, enabling that society to function effectively.

See our previous article relating to the importance of support with communities.

According to James Cook University academic and human geographer Dr Sandy Astill who has been researching resilience and recovery in the communities affected by Cyclones Larry and Yasi, hiring local, shopping local and spending disaster relief funds locally can make the difference between a community recovering from a cyclone or not.

It is also encouraging to see that Queensland’s Disaster management system will be reviewed by the Emergency Management Inspector-General Ian MacKenzie to see what can be learned from past issues and what needs to be improved.  As well as working with the Queensland Fire And Emergency Services, police, local and district disaster management group and councils, the public will also be polled and asked their opinion to the response.  It is important that we learn from each and every disaster.


ABC News – Australia