What it was like at the heart of Cyclone Debbie

The cost of Cyclone Debbie’s devastating rampage along the north Queensland coast is slowly emerging.

Towns were battered by the storm, which caused major flash floods, left 63,000 households without power and caused untold property damage.

These are some of the stories of those who were left to pick up the pieces.

Peta Kucas, 49, Cannonvale

Peta Kucas, 49, and her 12-year-old daughter Kelisha along with their two chihuahuas and two cats fled Cannonvale before Cyclone Debbie hit.

“It wasn’t until Sunday morning when the SES and police came to my door handing me an evacuation notice that I started to take it seriously. It was a big shock,” Ms Kucas told The New Daily.

“We ran away on Monday morning and I’ve been fretting ever since. I left as soon as I heard on the news that it was going to be the same size as Cyclone Yasi.

“I felt scared. The damage around was proving to me my fears that it was going to be big.

“We drove six hours to Rockhampton. It was like I was trying to get as many kilometres as we could between us and it.

“I’ve been so worried. I woke up this morning (Wednesday) with an anxiety attack. I only just found out 10 minutes ago that one of my friends is safe.

“I know our great big front fence has fallen down out the front of our house but I don’t know what it’s like inside. I’m dreading it.”

Melissa Ferrier, 40, Mackay

Melissa and her house of eight, including her husband, 17-year-old stepdaughter, her sister, and her four kids, aged two to 13, lost power in Mackay but avoided the worst of Cyclone Debbie.

“I knew that we had to be prepared but not panicked,” Ms Ferrier told The New Daily.

“We have had worse summer storms with the wind and rain we got for the first 24 hours, but by Tuesday evening the wind had definitely got wild.

“It was certainly a little scary feeling the wind rattle the house and windows as well as hearing it through the trees.

“I’ll admit I was most frustrated trying to keep family and friends updated that we were OK. It was really, really hard.

“We were lucky, but unlucky that on Monday afternoon one of our 30-metre pine trees blew over landing in our neighbour’s yard. Any other direction and it would have landed on either a house or our cars.

“We are on to day two with no power.”

Michael Kruer, Hamilton Island

American Michael Kruer was on holiday with his wife, sister-in-law and four children in Hamilton Island when Debbie struck. And they are still stuck there.

“Walking out this morning was just unreal, the island when we got here was full of green foliage and beautiful trees, and it’s just been stripped,” Mr Kruer told The New Daily.

“Looking across the island, you can now see parts of the island that were completely hidden before. Boats washed up on the shore, we are seeing trees and branches fallen everywhere. It’s a bit of a mess.

“The kids have had their ups and downs. My boys (13 and 17) stepped up, we had to clear a whole bunch of fallen trees and branches to create a path to get out of our home which took the better part of two hours.

“My daughters have had a harder time. They spent quite a bit of time downstairs huddled in the closet. They are glad to be out now.

“We’re hoping we can get a flight out tomorrow.”

Raquel Stracov, Cannonvale

“We’re still in the cyclone shelter (as of 1.30pm Wednesday).

“We’ve been here since 10.30 Monday night.

“We decided to drive here; me, my partner and my two-and-a-half year old.

“We were worried. There were trees on the roads but we had to get out of there.

“I felt like I was risking our lives to get to a safer place but I knew it had to be done.

“I’m trying to find out if my house is OK. But we are happy to be alive.

“We are very concerned our house has been damaged. But they are only possessions.”

Originally published at The New Daily.


About Alana Mitchelson

Alana Mitchelson is a journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Follow her on Twitter at @AlanaMitchelson.

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