AS Cyclone Yasi wreaked havoc, the competition was just as fierce as the Dunbar family battled for property rights in Monopoly while they waited out the storm.
Earlier on Wednesday, as the largest cyclone to ever hit Queensland drew closer to the coast, Cate and Tom Dunbar with daughter Jenna and son Calam evacuated their home in Walkerman to Cate’s brother and his wife’s home 20 minutes drive away in Atherton.
“We moved in with relatives, Mark and Sylveanna Cook, because it was safer,” said Cate, who left Emerald in 2009 after four decades in the town. “We have lots of big trees around our house that could blow over, and they had less trees there.”
The Dunbar family along with Mark, Sylveanna and Cate’s mother prepared for the worst and set up safe zones in the pantry and bathrooms.
“We had bedding, pillows, drinks and food – we had everything ready to go and we listened to ABC reports constantly. The winds started at around 9pm.
“It didn’t get serious until after 12am with the winds getting stronger and stronger and trees were flopping around. It lasted for four hours but we didn’t receive much rain – not as much as we thought.
“We just kept playing Monopoly; Tom reckons he won. Some sat up but others, like me, just went to bed and got some sleep.
“We never had to go to the safe zones – we never thought we were in danger.”
The Dunbar family returned home on Thursday and Cate said Atherton and their home received little damage.
“We have been back home; all we got was just a little garden damage – leaves and branches but nothing too serious. The trees didn’t do any damage. We were very relieved,” Cate said.
“We have no power but we have a generator and an esky with ice to keep our drinks cold.
“Authorities gave plenty of warning and information so we could be fully prepared. We received hundreds of warnings and the warnings said to expect the worse as they couldn’t predict the damage.”
Despite the warnings, Cate said it didn’t cross her mind to evacuate further down south, although her husband Tom considered it.
“Tom suggested driving to Emerald but I didn’t want to drive in case roads were cut on the way back up. That’s why we came to my brother’s but we didn’t have a big concern as our children were here with us.”
This is Cate’s fourth cyclone experience and she said Yasi hadn’t been the worst she’d seen, although it was the largest. She said Mark, who experienced Cyclone Larry, said Yasi wasn’t as bad for Atherton.