BIA support crew departs to assist with cyclone Debbie relief

A Boating Industry Association support crew departed today for Far North Queensland, to help members coping with damage to boats and marinas from Cyclone Debbie.

Led by BIA Queensland Manager Aaron McKenna, a team of nine people met up today at Brisbane Airport for the final leg to the heart of the Cyclone Debbie destruction zone. Four volunteers were staff of members in NSW and the rest from members in Brisbane and the Gold Coast marine precinct.

A call out to members during the week resulted in a prompt response, with fast offers of cash and services allowing for the support effort to go ahead.

A quality mix of marina construction experts and boat handling people will allow the crew to provide much need specialized support to local BIA businesses devastated by the storm.

Aaron McKenna, who coordinated the logistics for the trip said, “The effort is meant to support existing local efforts. At first it was hard to contact anyone to understand what was needed, but when I finally got through, the offer was overwhelmingly wanted, needed and appreciated”.

“Our team, put together from our members, will arrive with an understanding of how boating facilities are built, operate and work. Our intention is to help our colleagues get back to operations as quickly as possible”.

The crew will arrive into the Airlie Beach precinct this afternoon and will commence support immediately.  Aaron will visit members in the vicinity to determine what help can be provided elsewhere.

Aaron said, “We do hope at some point to get to Hamilton Island where we know the need is extreme, but contact there is still very difficult”.

The team consists of Peter (Zoob) and Jackson Kilpatrick from Orca Marine Services, John Lawler from Empire Marina, Lars Steele-Mills from d’Albora Marinas, Ryan Hogan from Superior Jetties, Alister Copley from CM-Consulting, freelancer Bobby Hale, and BIA Past President and Life Member Doug Olding.  It is expected the the core team will be joined by others travelling independently midweek.

Before commencing the trip, Aaron said that challenges have already presented themselves.

“Limited facilities in the area will mean that the crew will be staying in fairly basic accommodation. Ensuring the crew have fresh water available once there was a task, and the need to transport specialized tools with the crew was not easy.  This said, we are not going on a holiday, and compared to what the local members and people endured we count ourselves lucky to have the opportunity to help”.

BIA CEO, Howard Glenn initiated the response, and he thanked those who have come forward so quickly.

“Apart from the human effort put forward by volunteers, I appreciate the rapid financial contributions from members to the Cyclone response, which helped get it underway. We’d welcome further donations for this national effort”, Mr Glenn said.

Reports from the support crew will be provided by the BIA as they come to hand.

Queensland members who typically call on Aaron for business support during the next week or so, should contact any other member of the BIA team for help during this time.


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