News

Facebook disaster page saved lives

Winds of up to 250kmh thrashed Cairns during the devastating severe tropical Cyclone Yasi on February 2.
Winds of up to 250kmh thrashed Cairns during the devastating severe tropical Cyclone Yasi on February 2. DAVE HUNT

BY day Garrett Wells is a teacher at Advanced Skills Training.

By night the Rockhampton man provided life-saving advice to millions of people during the Queensland floods and Cyclone Yasi.

And today he will be teacher to about 70 high-ranking emergency service officers, Department of Justice head honchos, CEOs, and academics.

The creator of Facebook page, Cyclone Yasi Update, and his skills, have been called in by the government and he will be flown to the Australian Emergency Management Institute in Victoria today to discuss using Facebook as a disaster management tool.

On February 2, the fateful day the cyclone ravaged North Queensland, the page had 509,743 hits, 3576 wall posts, more than 22 million wall posts viewed on wall feeds, and at its peak, 91,000 members.

But Garrett says he’s no IT genius, he just wants to help.

“It started as something small, but grew into something bigger,” he said.

From humble beginnings with his CQ Flood Update – Version 2 Facebook page, to SEQ Flood Update, to NQ Flood Update, and finally Cyclone Yasi Update, Garrett is now seasoned in providing disaster information 24/7.

“Ours was the only 24-hour, real-time updating service,” he said.

“But I was just a man with an idea, I couldn’t do it without my team.”

Garrett recruited 11 people across the state by Facebook, most of whom he’s never met, to help him run the pages.

His motley crew of Facebook administrators include two

professional photographers, two storm chasers, a transport operator and two amateur meteorologists.

“I couldn’t have done it without them, they are a godsend,” he said. “We’ve been mentioned on CNN, Reuters, the Sydney Morning Herald, Channel 7.”

But Garrett will have to face an important crowd alone today and over the next two days as he runs his workshop.




REVEALED: The most common smartphone killer...

Customers try out rose gold iPhone 6s and 6s Plus smartphones at the Apple Store near the West Lake in Hangzhou city, east China's Zhejiang province, 25 September 2015.Apple launched its iPhone 6s or 6s Plus around the world on Friday (25 September 2015). Apple enthusiasts in China can now pick up their pre ordered smartphones at Apple stores. The pre order channel on Apple's official website is accessible for a limited time every day. According to reports, iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are expected to break sales records currently held by the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus of last year.

It has claimed nearly 9 million smartphones.

Rocky family receives Australia's biggest hospital pay-out

HEARTBREAK: Jamie Manuele (centre) flanked by his mother Daphne Manuele (left) and partner Cara and son Jesse-James (4) at Rockhampton Hospital.

Man awarded $10 million settlement for damages.

Similar accident occurred years ago where truck crashed

The RACQ CQ Rescue chopper leaves the accident scene bound for Rockhampton Hospital. Photo Andrew Thorpe / Central Telegraph

Neighbour says bridge is narrow and makes drivers nervous

Latest deals and offers


Your Chance to Win

A Holiday to Kingfisher Bay!
Learn More

GIG GUIDE: Gigs across CQ in the coming weeks

A Breach of Silence, the band.

Lots of live music gigs set for Central Queensland stages

Tackling depression through song and story

BUSKER: Brian Musch. Photo: Bec Cawthorne

Giving back through song and speech

Rob Kardashian 'neglected' by Blac Chyna

Friends say they are now 'back in love'

Isla Fisher: I don't like talking about my private life

Isla Fisher shut down TV hosts when they asked about her husband

Mariah Carey: I 'can't believe' Prince has gone

'Prince was one of the best people I've met'

Joe Jonas' 'tough' pals

Joe Jonas' pals are 'tough' with his potential partners

You can own this Queensland town for just $1

Yelarbon

Unprecedented auction of town's business centre with no reserve

Work starts on $15M Caloundra apartment building

Turning the first sod at the Aqua View Apartments site in Kings Beach are (from left) husband-and-wife developers Alex Yuan and Stella Sun with construction company Tomkins director Mike Tomkins and Councillor Tim Dwyer.

Developers excited about addition to Kings Beach skyline

Iconic Denison St building sold for close to $1M

The Swan Hotel building in Denison St.

ONE of Rockhampton’s most iconic buildings has been sold

Unique Rockhampton bar hits the market

HOT PROPERTY: Cuban themed bar Chango Chango is up for sale.

Popular Rocky bar hits the market.

72-year-old Coast developer set to start new project

GREEN LIGHT: The Cosmopolitan has been approved for development at Cotton Tree.

Meet the Canberran set to deliver another chapter for Coast suburb

Plans revealed for 1500-lot 'master-planned community'

Precinct will be bounded by Boundary St and Shoesmith Rd