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3.2 Responding During an Emergency


  • Keep informed 
  • Review and implement your emergency plan 
  • Refresh your emergency kit
  • Follow instructions from emergency agencies
  • Look out for others

How to keep informed

The ABC is the official emergency broadcaster. It will provide essential up to date information, including advice from authorities and support available. Your local ABC radio frequencies are:

ABC Mid North Coast: 95.5 FM (Manning River) and 756 AM (Taree) 

You can also subscribe to ABC Emergency on Twitter or Facebook to stay up to date with conditions and official Police, Fire, SES social media feeds.

While not an official emergency broadcaster, Taree commercial radio (1557 AM and 103.3 FM) may also have relevant local information.


Here are some other tips to help you stay informed: 

  • Check Midcoast Council’s online “disaster dashboard” which has a map displaying a wide range of data for the council area — including river heights, road conditions and closures, flood and fire incidents, as well as power and water outages. 
  • See https://midcoast.disasterdashboards.com/dashboard/overview 
  • Download the Fires Near Me smartphone app (you can set up a Watch Zone on the app).
  • Save the Bush Fire Information Line (1800 679 737) on your phone.
  • Save links to the NSW RFS website and social media pages; Facebook and Twitter.
  • Search “Harrington” for local community advice on the SES home page. 
  • Monitor weather conditions and check warnings on the Bureau of Meteorology website.
  • Check road closures and conditions that may affect your planned evacuation route:
     online: https://www.livetraffic.com or via the live traffic app.
  •  24 hour hotline: 132 701 — information on traffic incidents such as vehicle accidents, road closures, major roadwork and special events. 

Check the Harrington and Surrounds Business and Community Association Facebook page. During major emergencies, official warnings and advice from emergency services organisations applicable to Harrington and Crowdy Head will be posted here. 

Evacuation Warnings and Evacuation Orders

Evacuation Warnings and Evacuation Orders are issued by the NSW SES for floods, storms and tsunami. When flooding is about to happen and you are required to evacuate, the SES will issue an Evacuation Order advising people of what to do and where to go. These orders are authorised by the local SES Region Controller.

There are a number of ways you might hear about the need to evacuate including:

  •  doorknock by SES or Police
  •  radio stations
  •  automated telephone and/or SMS. 

When an Evacuation Warning is issued

  • Locate important papers, valuables and momentos. Put them in your Emergency Kit
  • Keep listening to your local radio station for information, updates and advice
  • Follow instructions given to you by emergency services

When an Evacuation Order is issued 

Staying inside a property, even one which you think is safe, may be very dangerous. If you are warned to evacuate it is always safest to move to a location away from the affected area early.

  • Turn off electricity and gas at the mains before you leave and turn off and secure any gas bottles
  • Take your emergency kit and follow your emergency plan 
  • Take your pets with you
  • Follow all instructions given to you by emergency services
  • Wear appropriate clothing. 

You should leave well before roads and evacuation routes are cut off or closed. Never enter or travel through floodwater. Stay with family or friends away from the affected area. Evacuation centres may also be established by welfare services in your area. 

For more advice on how you can prepare to evacuate, what to take with you and what you can expect see: https://www.nsw.gov.au/prepare-for-a-disaster/be-ready-for-an-emergency-evacuation

Evacuation Centres

You will be asked to register as being safe. Help available at an evacuation centre may include:

  •  Temporary accommodation
  •  Financial help
  •  Personal support
  •  Help with obtaining identity documents
  •  Refreshments and meals
  •  Clothing and personal needs
  •  Help in contacting family and friends 
  •  Access to medical and medication support.


Steps between an Evacuation Order and an All Clear!

When you are required to evacuate, the NSW SES will issue an Evacuation Order advising people of what to do and where to go. Once it is safe for people affected by the Evacuation Order to return to properties, the NSW SES will issue an ‘All Clear’.

For some residents it is a nervous wait between the Evacuation Order and the All Clear. As those affected people are often anxious to return to their properties, assess the damage and begin the clean up.

However prior to declaring the area safe for residents to return to properties, there are a number of important safety assessments that must be made by agencies including the NSW SES, NSW Department of Public Works, Department of Housing, the local council, electricity and gas suppliers, and other organisations. 

When returning to your property

The SES, ABC Emergency and Red Cross websites provide guidance on safely returning to your property after an evacuation and starting the process of clean-up and repair, see: 





Some of the key points are:

  • Ensure the structural stability of your property before entering. Be wary of hazardous materials or wildlife that may have taken refuge in houses and sheds.
  • Electrical and gas appliances that have been exposed to floodwater should be inspected for safety before use.
  • Wear suitable protective clothing, including boots and gloves, when cleaning up. 
  • Be aware of any slip, trip or fall hazards. 
  • Never eat food which has been in contact with floodwater, and only use clean utensils and personal items. 
  • Have a supply of fresh drinking water. Never drink from taps, garden hoses or any water supply sources that may have been exposed to floodwater. 
  • Take lots of photos of all damage for insurance claims.
  • Let your family and friends know where you are.
  • If your home is not habitable, check to see if your insurance policy includes temporary accommodation support. If not, you may be eligible for temporary accommodation through Link2home. Phone 1800 152 152, 9am – 10pm daily.

In case you become separated from loved ones during an emergency, Red Cross manages Register.Find.Reunite, a national registration and enquiry service. The service is activated during major natural disasters. People can register at redcross.org.au or in person at an evacuation or relief centre. 

If you evacuate from your home but have somewhere else to stay, it is still important that you register and provide details about where you are staying. This gives a clearer picture of the full impact of the event and allows you to be contacted if necessary. 

Neighbourhood Safer Places

A Neighbourhood Safer Place is designed as a place of last resort in bush fire emergencies only. They are to be used when all other options in your bush fire survival plan can’t be put into action safely. 

Please note that travelling to or sheltering at a Neighbourhood Safer Place does not guarantee your safety. When travelling to your Neighbourhood Safer Place there may be heavy smoke and poor visibility.

The conditions at the Neighbourhood Safer Place may be uncomfortable and you may be affected by heat, smoke and embers. Water, toilets and food may not be available at the Neighbourhood Safer Place and emergency service personnel may not be present.

Neighbourhood Safer Places are not intended for pets and livestock.

For more information see: 


Locally, the currently designated neighbourhood safer places are: 

  • In Harrington, Harrigan’s Irish Pub and River Lodge, and Club Harrington (the bowls club).  
  • In Crowdy Head, Muir Park and Crowdy Head Boat Harbour.

What about a Tsunami?

There have been over fifty recorded incidents of tsunamis affecting the Australian coastline since European settlement. Tsunamis in Australia are usually only dangerous to swimmers and boaters as they result in dangerous rips and currents rather than land inundation. However, climate change modelling by insurance companies places tsunamis as the highest catastrophe risk facing Harrington/Crowdy Head even if the probability is low. 

Australia has a world class tsunami warning system providing 24/7 monitoring, detection and warning services for Australian community.

Australia’s vulnerability to tsunamis

Australia is surrounded to the northwest and east by some 8,000 kilometres of active tectonic plate boundaries capable of generating tsunamis, which could reach our coastline within two to four hours. One-third of earthquakes worldwide occur along these boundaries. The impact of a tsunami hitting vulnerable, low-lying areas on the Australian coast could be significant.

What are the warning signs of a tsunami?

The number one warning sign of a tsunami is the advice you may receive from the media (on radio or television) or from police and other emergency services. Follow their instructions immediately.

The following are natural signs of a tsunami that you may, but not always, experience when you are near the coast. If you notice any of these three warning signs take action.

  • A shaking of the ground in coastal regions may reflect the occurrence of a large undersea earthquake nearby that may generate a tsunami.
  • As a tsunami approaches shorelines, the sea may, but not always, withdraw from the beach (like a very low and fast tide) before returning as a fast-moving tsunami.
  • A roaring sound may precede the arrival of a tsunami.

What to do if you notice the warning signs or hear a warning from emergency services?

If there is a threat of land inundation from a tsunami, move to higher ground, at least ten meters above sea level or one kilometre away from the coast and rivers. Be sure to listen to your local radio station for information, warnings and advice. 

  • If you are at the beach, immediately move inland or to higher ground.
  • If your boat is in deep water and offshore, maintain your position.
  • If your boat is berthed or in shallow water, secure your vessel and move inland or to higher ground.
  • If you are on the coast and cannot move inland, seek shelter in the upper levels of a stable building.
  • Do not return to the coast until you receive official clearance.
  • Continue to follow emergency services instructions.

More information on tsunamis 

The SES tsunami website includes maps showing the areas where people would have to move to higher ground in the event of a land-threat tsunami. 


The Bureau of Meteorology has answers to frequently asked questions at 


Harrington & Surrounds website is owned & maintained by the Harrington & Surrounds Business & Community Association Incorporated.


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