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Katrina lessons help Australians rebuff Larry


LESSONS FROM hurricane Katrina helped Australia's emergency services prepare for the impact of powerful tropical cyclone Larry, which struck the country's north east coast on Monday.

Larry was stronger that Katrina when it hit the Queensland town of Innisfail on Monday but all of its 18,000 residents survived.

Power was restored to the area's sewage treatment and water desalination plants by Tuesday morning and the debris clean-up was also under way.

'This was a mixture of planning and luck, ' said a Queensland State Emergency Service spokesman.

'We have been constantly testing our emergency plans through computer models and training exercises. Just two weeks ago our entire team went on a week-long exercise in Cairns, practising for a cyclone and a storm surge.' The spokesman said this rigorous planning had come from observing the slow, disjointed response by US emergency services to Hurricane Katrina in August last year.

An evacuation order for New Orleans was only given 24 hours before the storm hit and the poor provision of emergency supplies in the storm's immediate aftermath led to reforms of the US Government's Federal Emergency Management Agency (NCE 16 February).

nisfail residents were securing their homes up to three days before the storm and potable water, ready-made meals and generators were with them the morning after Larry hit.

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