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Red Cross deploys experts to cyclone-ravaged region

Sunday March 26, 2006

Australian Red Cross is deploying disaster response experts from right across the country to assist in the humanitarian response to Cyclone Larry in far north Queensland. Volunteers and staff from New South Wales, Victoria, the Northern Territory and Western Australia will travel to the affected region to support field operations, as well as to Red Cross headquarters in Brisbane.

These new arrivals will join local volunteers and staff who have been providing round the clock assistance to cyclone-affected people since last Monday. According to Greg Goebel, executive director of Australian Red Cross Queensland, their arrival will ensure that the work of the Red Cross over the past week will be able to continue for as long as is needed.

'We are now seeing that this emergency response will need to continue for a while longer,' he said. 'Red Cross, like the other agencies that have been involved in this huge undertaking, is committed to staying here where we are needed for as long as it takes.'

The Red Cross, working closely with the Queensland Department of Communities, is continuing to seek out people and families affected by the storm. In Kurrimine and Silkwood, towns left devastated by the cyclone, doorknocking volunteers have been distributing food parcels and helping to determine what the most pressing needs of survivors are.

In Innisfail, around 80 people are still being cared for at the Red Cross evacuation centre at the local TAFE. Other residents who have been able to remain in their own houses are travelling to the centre to collect food and drinking water. Red Cross volunteers are also at the Innisfail One Stop Shop, offering care, comfort, water and food to those queuing for assistance.

In Babinda, Red Cross staff and volunteers have been visiting a number of families who have not been able to access services in the town, taking them food and offering personal support.