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My dates with DISASTER

ACCIDENTAL STORM CHASER: Sarah Scoles has endured Emerald’s devastating floods and three tropical cyclones in less than a year. cont
ACCIDENTAL STORM CHASER: Sarah Scoles has endured Emerald’s devastating floods and three tropical cyclones in less than a year. cont

ANYONE would think Emerald’s Sarah Scoles was a storm chaser, but she’s not.

She’s just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time for every major disaster to hit Queensland in the last year.

Since arriving in Australia from New Zealand in 2008, Sarah and her six-year-old son Sam have survived Tropical Cyclone Ului in March last year, the record local floods last month, Tropical Cyclone Anthony on Monday, and the largest cyclone to hit Queensland in living memory just yesterday – Tropical Cyclone Yasi.

“Mother Nature needs to sort itself out,” Sarah said, speaking from Airlie Beach hours after the category five system crossed the Queensland coast.

“This is just insane.”

When she moved over three years ago, it was for what this lucky country could provide but she probably should have specified what she was looking for.

“I came over in 2008 because there were more opportunities here,” she said.

“My parents were living at Airlie Beach so I moved up to be near them but found it just wasn’t for me.”

When cyclone Ului hit, Sarah made up her mind to leave the coast and head west.

“I moved to Emerald because it’s a good community and the people are friendly,” she said.

That was just six months before her Kidd Street home was engulfed by the heartbreaking record floods that swept through the town.

Sarah spent Christmas with family and friends on the coast, but returned to Emerald to find her home swamped with the putrid floodwaters which left nothing in its path unharmed.

“The smell was the first thing that got me, and then just walking through the house,” she said.

“You don’t think everything is going to be moved, but it was.

“I was pretty amazed.”

Facing a fight with insurance giant Allianz, Sarah headed back to Airlie Beach while her house was being rebuilt – just in time for Tropical Cyclone Anthony.

Sarah described the category two system as “scary-ish”, but wasn’t overly concerned.

“When you know you have a safe place, it makes it easier to stay calm,” she said.

Compared to the devastation of the Emerald floods, she said Cyclone Yasi hadn’t hit her as hard as she expected.

“Yasi was the big one but it didn’t really seem that much worse than Anthony,” she said.

“We had a lot of rain but the winds were about the same as Anthony.

“Mother Nature really has some issues she needs to sort out, and quickly.”

“Mother Nature really has some issues... ”

– Sarah Scoles


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