FIRES AND CYCLONES - UNDERGROUND SHELTERS
On the question of fire, I have had the experience of coming home from work one day to find my five acre block at Humpty Doo burned out. Another time, with a careful firebreak previously rolled and slow burned, I stood and watched a flying ember from a block on the other side of a wide road land in the centre of mine. Within a few seconds my existing native bush and grasses exploded like a petrol dump.
On cyclones, much to my surprise I actually survived Cyclone Tracy but tend to be traumatised ever since by the sound of wind.
We have known for decades that Darwin is not coded for category 5 cyclones, which are exponentially more damaging than category 4.
The NT Government assures us that we need only go to cyclone shelters “if we feel our cyclone coded homes are not safe”. How would we know? And we know we will not all fit into the public cyclone shelters (which are not code 5 either).
Despite my letters to the editor on such subjects in past years, clear direct warnings about the code issue are not made, nor is it mandatory for building designers to at least provide formal awareness and optional code 5 designs to their clients.
I have been therefore been thinking of designing a modular underground shelter for both fire and cyclone use. Americans shelter underground in tornadoes.
Waterproofing and an adequate oxygen supply would be needed, and for safety the shelter would need to be registered with Emergency Services and neighbours in case trees and debris block exit after the fire or cyclone. An EPIRB system might be handy, as would earplugs and chocolate. The shelter should be buried in the ground well away from buildings so that fires pass over it in a few minutes.
Many lives in the Victorian fires may have been saved by underground shelters.
Such shelters would be good for cold storage of wine and dried food. Irreplaceable items could be stored away there during fire and cyclone seasons for good security while you are at work or away.
Not much to lose, plenty to save.
Anne Hayward, Nightcliff