Opinion

Waiting for Marcia: a night we'll never forget

WORKING from home in Lammermoor Beach, Yeppoon, I'd just come off the back of a night shift with the Gladstone Observer when we heard Cyclone Marcia was predicted to make landfall as a category five cyclone.

It was clear my husband, nearly two-year-old daughter and I would be in Marcia's sights in hours.

We live in a pole house one block back from the beach and beside a rainforest gully with towering gums and other native trees that had been hit by ex-Tropical Cyclone Oswald in 2013.

With this ferocious storm fresh in our minds we decided to quickly pack valuables and spare clothes and sleep altogether in the safest part of the house.

At 4am I received a text from Livingstone Shire Council telling regional residents in low-lying houses to evacuate due to an expected storm surge of 2.5m on top of a 10am high tide of nearly five metres.

This message scared the life out of me and dread began to creep into my body as I lay listening to the wind and rain outside.

Radio updates said the cyclone made landfall about 8am around 100km north of us.

It was reported to have crossed the military zone of Shoalwater Bay with winds over 200km.

While the weather was still relatively okay at our end I kept imagining that in a few hours our house would be destroyed like those I'd seen in footage of Darwin's Cyclone Tracy.

I'd been through a number of cyclones but who experiences a category five? Can you survive I worriedly thought?!

Our neighbour and his wife soon came over to check on us and suggested we batten down with them and their two dogs in a back bedroom.

From their beachfront property you could see north towards Yeppoon and the Byfield region, which was now in the cyclone's path.

The normally tropically blue water was a dirty brown.

Wind-driven waves broke hundreds of metres offshore before surging up the creek and dunes to claw at trees and vegetation.


As the high tide peaked waves were covering parts of the road below the verandah.

Branches were flying from the nearby gully trees in a strong offshore breeze and birds were trying in vain to take cover.

Not long after the power cut out and we heard reports the cyclone had been downgraded to a Category 4.

By lunchtime the winds picked up to a ferocious pace. They blasted the glass windows and doors making a high-pitched and eerie whistle.

In some instances the panes were bowing in their tracks leaving a gap for rain to stream inside.

We all quickly moved to the back bedroom where thick mattresses were placed over the two small windows and an extra mattress available to hide under if needed.

It was hot and stuffy in the room but no one wanted to be anywhere else.

The wind was angry and deafeningly loud but was frequently broken by large bangs on the roof from flying logs, fence palings, guttering, awnings, roof tiles and who knows what!

When we peeked behind the mattresses out the window you could see the once proud and strong gully trees at 45-degree angles being lashed by jet-fighter strength winds before snapping in half and being stripped of their leaves.

Very few were to survive the almost three-hour onslaught in which winds were reportedly recorded at about 160kmh in Yeppoon.

Concerned colleagues from the Rockhampton Bulletin soon rang to interview us and I also spoke live on NZ radio.

As the cyclone passed the winds turned onshore but remained just as punishing until slowly, slowly they died down enough so we could come outside to see the damage.

Luckily our house was intact although it had had a tonne of shredded leaves spat all over it and jammed into every nook and cranny.

In our street a family of four had been forced to evacuate during the storm when their roof flew into a neighbour's house and a nearby field.

An old power pole had been pushed into a house and its lines flung across the road.

Others had vehicles damaged by flying debris, verandahs and fences blown away, garage doors buckled, carpets soaked, sheds and guttering torn off, and much more.

Most importantly though we all gave thanks no one was injured.

Now three days after the storm the Premier has visited, the Army is on its way, 1800 powerlines have been reported down, 1500 central Queensland homes have some kind of structural damage, and I'm using a mobile solar panel to fire up my laptop.

It has been a scary and crazy few days and it could be some time until we are back to normal living.

But it is amazing to see our community pulling together.

We have survived a major cyclone and as the song goes "we will survive" what the future brings.

Topics:  cyclone marcia, editors picks, wildweather




Police arrest teen girl found driving stolen car

She was found driving a stolen car at Aerodrome Rd.

$9.8m boost to strengthen networks for Gladstone industries

Glenn Butcher MP has announced a $9.8 million upgrade to the power supply infrastructure.Photo Mike Richards / The Observer

The Boyne Smelter will receive a $9.8m network boost

Latest deals and offers

The Big Music Quiz gives The Block a run for its money

Darren McMullen hosts the TV series The Big Music Quiz.

NEW challenger in TV ratings race shakes up Sunday night.

Britney Spears calls Carpool Karaoke appearance "awkward"

Britney Spears admits her Carpool Karaoke segment was "awkward"

Mariah Carey's sister Alison arrested for prostitution

Mariah Carey's sister has been arrested on charges of prostitution.

VIDEO: What did Thor do during Captain America: Civil War?

Short explains why Thor wasn't in Civil War film.

Hilarious mockumentary features star of the film Chris Hemsworth

Meet Toowoomba's top exotic dancer

WINNERS ARE GRINNERS: Exotic dancers (from left) Alice Morgan, Celeste and Frenchie are heading to the United States after competing in Miss Vault 2017.

Dancers vie for top spot at Toowoomba's only strip club

That's a wrap: Gympie Muster celebrates 35 years in style

Caitlyn Shadbolt performs at the Muster Club on Sunday August 28 at the Gympie Muster.

Country music festival blessed with great weather and bumper crowds

REVEALED: Pat Rafter's $18m Coast house on the market

Check out the photos of the Coast's most expensive property for sale

The "correction we had to have" in Gladstone's rentals

UPWARD MARCH: The rental vacancy rate in Gladstone has improved for the first time in more than a year, providing a confidence boost in the market.

Vacancy rates improve with signs that things are getting betterF

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

$100m plan for Curtis Island 'world class' luxury resort

$100 million resort: Top views at Turtle Street at Curtis Island.

"At the moment we think it meets all the town planning approvals.”

Gladstone landlords in trouble with Bechtel job losses

"If a big project was announced tomorrow I wouldn't want to see it"