What a night.
As a born and bred north Queenslander, I’ve learned to measure a cyclone’s might and power by the amount of sleep you get.
In the case of Yasi, the people of Mackay definitely got a few hours.
It’s a city just outside the danger zone. But knowing Yasi was 5 times wider than Cyclone Larry (which hit in March 2006) and a severe category 5 storm – many North Queenslanders were anticipating the effects to a certain degree.
In a way, I was dreading waking up and having to face the TV news, the radio, reading twitter.
I was expecting lines to be redrawn on a map.
Would there be fatalities? Injuries? Or that horrible phrase that authorities (and the media) use – “people missing”?
Thankfully, that hasn’t happened as far as we can tell – Yasi was more contained than expected.
In cities such as Cairns and Townsville, the warnings, preparations and evacuations seem to have paid off. They haven’t been wiped out, and if anything, most modern buildings look exactly as they did yesterday. I don’t think anyone will ever take the cyclone building standards -introduced after 1975 – for granted again. After all, these materials have proven to be lifesavers.
The abscence, at this state, of fatalities, allows us to turn our attention to the material loss in the areas which took a direct hit.
More reports are coming out about some of the worst affected areas: Mission Beach, Tully, Cardwell, Ingham and Innisfail.
Stories of roof tops blowing off, trees becoming horizontal, powerlines down, smashed crops and rising waters are emerging thick and fast.
We can’t even begin to imagine the economic loss this will have on a town like Innisfail- banana capital of Queensland and also the victim of cyclone Larry. People’s livelihoods have been smashed again, in one night.
How any farmer can rebound from 2 cyclones in 6 years will be a battle. There will be an emotional toll.
Spare a thought also for our indigenous communities along the coast. Trying to get word of how residents on Palm Island faresd, or further north in Yarrabah, is proving difficult.
The full picture of Yasi’s stamp on Queensland is yet to emerge.
As I write, I know the situation can change very quickly. The flooding comes next, and as our cousins further south discovered – it can be a disaster in itself.
Cyclone Yasi promised widespread devastation. She did deliver, but thankfully not to the scale that was expected.