It was spawned in the the normally idyllic oceans around Fiji. By the time it was ready to touch land, Yasi had become a giant among storms.
Early tracking maps indicated it would strike the north Queensland coast at Cairns. Then, straight as an arrow towards the Atherton Tablelands.
What made this Category 5 cyclone alter its path, to leave Cairns virtually unscathed, but unleashing its fury on coastal towns like Mission Beach, Cardwell, Tully Heads and towns slightly inland from there, such as Tully?
By now, you’ve no doubt read about the effects of this cyclone, and have seen photos of the devastation in its wake.
I’ll give you a little personal report, from someone who was only brushed by the storm.
I had experienced Cyclone Larry, in 2006, so had an idea of what I could do to get ready. I bought food that wouldn’t spoil – canned and dry stuff. A bag of ice went into the freezer, along with some empty containers filled with water, to freeze and help keep things cool if the power went off. My mobile phone and iriver were fully charged; I can access FM radio on the latter. Extra candles, batteries for my torch, a large container of drinking water.
Hmm, let’s see. Fill the laundry sink and some buckets with water, for various needs, if the water is turned off. (Next time, I won’t let the sink overflow!) Bring in the little camp stove, see if it’s working, so I can heat water, and so on.
Anything loose in the yard had been tucked away. Oh, better tape those windows, don’t want shattered glass to tread on. I prepared a “bed” in my office, which is a smallish room, with no glass windows to break.
Then, the waiting game began. The cyclone was due to hit the coast around midnight. At about 7, the power went off. In the tropics, it’s dark by about 6, so suddenly, we were plunged into total darkness. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather see what I’m facing, than let my imagination take over.
It was one heck of a long night, with the noise and roaring strength of the wind, and the lashing rain my only company. A regional radio station was my link to the outside world, so I heard of the path the cyclone had taken, and what was happening to those unfortunate folks south of us. It seemed an endless night, and the pale dawn light was so welcome.
The only damage I could see at my place was a number of large branches snapped off the white cedar tree near my carport, strewn around my back yard, and a couple of trees in the front yard blown over. As far as I could tell, my immediate neighbours had no damage at all.
My first foray down town was on Friday, a full day after the cyclone had passed. People were quietly going about their business; that part of Atherton had not even lost power. Everyone was relieved that we had suffered less damage than from Larry, it was quite unbelievable. I drove around the streets a little, and happened to pass the old house that was the subject of an early post on my blog: https://ytaba36.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/
Poor old house, part of its iron roof was peeled back like the lid of a sardine tin. But, that old house and its shed were still standing!
I heard a hearty “Yay!” from my next door neighbours when our power came back on around noon on Saturday. We’re better off than many folks who face weeks with no power, or even worse, months with no home. Or, the farmers whose crops have been destroyed, those in tourism whose resorts have been flattened.
One of the most poignant things I heard was from an octogenarian, from Tully Heads, whose house was destroyed. He said “I would rather have died in that storm, than face trying to rebuild my life.”
I will echo what someone else said “If this is the worst thing that happens to me this year – it’s going to be a great year!”