Calls for disaster relief on Murray Island

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mer ilan island murray island torres strait

Christmas for residents of Murray Island in the Torres Strait became a nightmare this year after a large power cut affected the island.

Last Saturday a power line snapped and caught on fire. This resulted in the loss of power to a large part of the island. The power outage affected residents electricity supply as well as sewerage and fresh water systems. Power supply has already returned to normal after 2 days but it was too late and resulted in huge losses of food which residents on the island often keep frozen in bulk.

There are also serious fears about the safety of drinking water and the surrounding sea area. Residents are now questioning what relief efforts will occur in regards to the current water situation. They are also questioning what compensation will be offered by Ergon energy or the government for the loss of food. Concerns are also being raised about why the island is so vulnerable in cases like this. There has to be some kind of back up solution for when things go wrong.

Sadly this type of situation is not uncommon for people living in remote communities around Australia. Power outages do occur elsewhere and often result in the loss of stored food and create serious issues for anyone who relies on a constant power supply for health reasons. The timing of this most recent incident on Murray Island has not helped either.

In regards to the current situation, Joey Tapau Murray gave the following update on Wednesday: Hey Families just an update to this situation here on Mer. On Saturday morning the 23/12/2017 the power went off from Boged to Korog and up on the Hillside due to one of the Power line on the hill snapped in half and caught on fire. Since the Power went off, our reception was down as well, the only form of communication from the Island was via the Sat phone and Obviously the message got out to ERGON. On Monday Ergon switched the power on from Boged to Korog because of the Sewerage Station. On the late Tuesday afternoon, Ergon turned the Power on for the residents up on the hill side. As we speak, our power is back to normal. 

In regards to the water situation, we still don’t have an official notice stating that we can drink or fish! I rung Matt who sent out a notice to the community last week regarding our water contamination, I have asked him that how long will it take to test the water and how soon it will be tested! He said that the office in cairns that does the testing is shut until the 2nd of January. So basically we are drinking at our own risk. That’s all I know for now regarding the water situation.

I had a phone call from our Member for Cook 
Miss Cynthia Lui and explained our situation and how families lost a lot of food because of the power failure. I told her that I have spoken to other family members who were living up on the hillside and from Boged to Korog that they too have lost all their frozen Christmas and New Years shopping. She has sent her regards to the families here on Mer and said that once it’s back to business she will look into it. I said to her that I’m not gonna back down until we have a back up plan for situations like this considering we are so remote and we definitely need a back up plan until ERGON arrives ( especially our Sewerage, Water and IBIS). She also said that once she gets information, she will give me a call for updates. 

I would also like to clarify that my post was not pointing at anyone but as a concerned resident and as I am part of the Disaster Management group here on Mer. I consider this situation as a disaster and would like everyone to come together to help and support each other and our leaders to come up with a solution to solve this issue. We are living in the 21st Century and still have these issues. So let’s stand together and solve these problems. As I have stated before that I will not back down as the saying goes “Mer e still Mark Time” and people still saying that we still not going ahead. If we don’t raise issues, Mer will still stand still and won’t go ahead and how we gonna progress. I believe it’s time now to stand up and do something about it and be PROACTIVE. Let’s stop depending on our leaders but help and support them as they are our voice for our community.

Au Esoau 

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