Your first and best option if you have to evacuate should always be a pre-arrangement to stay with family, friends or colleagues or to leave the affected area early.
Shelters are categorised as storm tide cyclone shelters or places of refuge. Storm tide cyclone shelters are opened first, followed by places of refuge if required.
Only residents in storm tide inundation areas that have been advised to evacuate will be admitted to a shelter.
They are a last resort for people who do not have any alternative and therefore are configured to accommodate the most people.
If you come to a shelter or place of refuge and don't need to be there (for instance if you're not from an area being evacuated) you may be refused entry. You may also be asked to leave if you don't abide by the rules and conditions prior to lock down and can be prosecuted if you break the rules and conditions.
Public storm tide cyclone shelter
There are two cyclone-rated public storm tide cyclone shelters in the Cairns region, in Redlynch and Edmonton.
These cyclone-rated buildings are a last resort shelter option for people living in storm tide surge zones who have absolutely nowhere else to go.
The shelters are not automatically opened for a cyclone. Wait for advice from the Cairns Local Disaster Management Group that a shelter has been opened before travelling.
Places of refuge
Most places of refuge are large public buildings such as halls and are structurally no safer than any other building erected after 1982.
Places of refuge will be opened only as needed and locations will be announced through the regular emergency channels - radio, television, Council's website and social media.
Places of refuge change over time so a centre you have previously used or know has been used as a shelter may no longer be suitable. Only go to places of refuge that have been announced by the Cairns Local Disaster Management Group.
Travelling to a shelter
Council provides evacuation maps to assist residents and visitors to exit endangered areas.
If you decided or are advised to evacuate leave immediately to give yourself time to get out of the endangered area. Keep in mind there will be a large number of vehicles on roads and that flooding and debris could restrict the number of lanes that are open.