Yasi survivor's stomach churns over evacuation refusals

Cyclone Yasi devastation at Tully.
Cyclone Yasi devastation at Tully. supplied

WITHIN 10 minutes of Cyclone Yasi crossing the coast I heard two shattering bangs that made my family home near Tully shake.

Two of the biggest gum trees in our yard crashed hard to the ground - it brought a wave of relief and terror: "thank god the trees didn't hit the house" and "bloody hell, we are only 10 minutes in".

For the next six hours myself, my mum and my dad listened to trees slam against the earth, later we heard them split explosively as the trees that stood up to the earlier force were snapped in half.

And, within about half an hour our ears were filled with the screeching of tin being ripped off our shed - this set the tone for the rest of the night as we feared our house's roof would be next.


With a Dolphin torch pointed outside the window I watched as huge sheets of tin whipped past.

Our three-bay shed was completely blown to bits.

Apart from the few split seconds when the eye passed over our home we had no silence, just the ferocious roar of Yasi.

It was a long horrible night.


However, I think the most worrisome thing about my experience was that I thought I had been through a cyclone before I went through Yasi.

I truly did.

I was a north Queensland girl who grew up knowing cyclones were a part of life.

Cyclone Larry, a category five system hit Innisfail only a few years before, a town that's only 45kms away from my parents' house.

During that storm, we felt the winds and had some destruction so I thought I knew what was coming.

But in reality, I was terribly naive.

Driving to work this morning my stomach started to churn as I heard there was a coastal community near Ayr where residents were refusing to evacuate.

My memory of what was left behind at Tully's coastal community, Tully Heads, in Yasi's wake suddenly became fresh. 

All that was left from some of the lovely two-storey homes was a cement slab and the downstairs toilet.

Although I am by no means an expert, I don't believe residents would have lived if they stayed in these houses.

The storm surge's destruction was a completely different force.

However, all cyclones are different so I truly hope Debbie doesn't harm coastal communities like Yasi did.

I remember before Yasi hit, when I was a cadet journalist for my local paper, a frustrated SES volunteer said what people needed to remember was that "houses don't get stronger the more cyclones they go through".

That's common sense right?

Yet time after time we hear people say their homes have been through cyclones before so they feel they will be safe.

All I can hope is people heed the warnings, in my opinion a cyclone of Debbie's size is not one to be complacent about.  

Topics:  cyclone debbie cyclone yasi editors picks innisfail tully

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