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Early reports are good for Blue Care in Cyclone Yasi

In the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Yasi, Blue Care is pleased initial reports are that people in most parts of the destruction zone are doing well and all but one of the key facilities remain operational.

Blue Care Executive Director Robyn Batten said there were still concerns for people in Tully and for how the Blue Care Garden Settlement Aged Care Facility and Blue Care Pallarenda Retirement Living Village faired following the high tide this morning.

“We will know more this afternoon when it is safe for our managers to return to the roads and check on things but we remain optimistic as that’s all we can be at this stage,” Ms Batten said.

“When you consider we were dealing with a Category 5 cyclone, initial reports in the areas where communication lines are open, suggest we have shaped up well with no injuries and only minor damage to property.”

Blue Care’s Community Care services were well prepared for the cyclone, only performing essential care duties yesterday and identifying high-needs clients with the State Emergency Service.

“In Tully, where Blue Care has a Community Care service, communication lines are down and it’s still unsafe to be driving which is why we are still waiting for news from there,” Ms Batten said. “Community Care services in all areas from Bowen north are experiencing loss of power and phones, however early reports indicate centres are okay and staff are safe.

“It is still too early to report on the damage to clients and staff homes.”

Blue Care had four residential facilities in the cyclone-zone situated at Townsville, Mareeba, Ingham and Cairns. Townsville’s facility of 100-plus residents was the most at risk of damage, which is why residents were evacuated to higher ground on Tuesday.

At all other facilities, emergency plans were in place, with residents and staff sheltering in safe areas on site.

“All Townsville Garden Settlement residents and staff in the evacuation centre are in good spirits after enduring a night listening to the raging winds and rain outside,” Ms Batten said. “We will wait now until we get word on the building’s safety before we know if and when resident’s can move home.

“For residents and staff, at Ingham particularly, it was a scary night, with fierce winds and rain forcing its way under the doors, but everyone was okay and the building was relatively unscathed.

“We can not thank the SES and other emergency services’ and disaster management groups enough for their assistance during these tough times – first through the floods, and now through this mammoth cyclone.

“What has been heroic throughout this frightening experience is the resilience of staff on the ground and the way in which residents and clients cooperated with them to ensure everyone’s safety.

“Now our efforts are concentrated on the welfare and counselling needs of our residents and staff, the clean up, and to continuing to check everyone is okay.”

Blue Care began in 1953 and has grown into one of Australia’s leading providers of community health and residential aged care, supporting more than 12,500 people every day.