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Rangers get busy with cyclone clean-up

Posted: Fri, March 06, 2015

Peter Gjigirr, of the Gurruwiling Ranger Group, stands beside an uprooted tree the following morning.

THE NLC-supported Wanga Djakamirr and Gurruwiling ranger groups are playing key support roles in the clean-up at Ramingining following Cyclone Lam’s destructive sweep through the community two weeks ago.

The Category-4 cyclone bore down on North East Arnhem Land, terrorising several communities before crossing the coast equidistant to Milingimbi and Ramingining in the early hours of Friday, 20 February. Its estimated maximum wind gusts were measured at 260kph.

Other affected communities included Galiwin’ku, Elcho Island, Maningrida and Milingimbi with damage primarily coming from felled trees on houses.

Resultant rain contributed to minor-level flooding in parts of Central Arnhem Land.

The clean-up and rebuild across several communities is expected to cost in the order of $100 million.

At Ramingining, the cyclone began to intensify from around 9pm. By daylight, it had passed but not before leaving a trail of stripped foliage and uprooted trees.

The ranger groups quickly got to work, joining Northern Territory Emergency Services in clearing out yards and fenced areas from fallen trees.

“The rangers got to work cutting up some of the larger trunks into smaller, more manageable sections to take away in small trucks,” NLC Ranger Coordinator, Jacob Bar-Lev, said.

“We first had a meeting with the emergency services where they would categorise each property’s damage on a scale of one-to-four; one being severely affected and so on.”

There were up to 15 big trees that were uprooted and so it took the rangers some work for these to be taken away. Two rangers’ homes were also hit by falling trees, which sustained minor damage.

Only in recent months were the new ranger quarters completed and these reportedly held up well during the cyclonic onslaught.

“We had some minor dents in the roof, a tree fell on the nearby fence about 50m away and 1 tree fell on but did not damage one of ATVs (all-terrain vehicles),” Bar-Lev said.

“When the cyclone came through, you didn’t see much because it was night-time, and no-one could sleep at night; it was just this constant, strong wind and noise with not much rain so there was no flooding here. You could feel the quarters move and sway a bit but it held up well.”