You may wonder, ten months on from Cyclone Yasi, what life is like for the community and individuals I’ve written about on my blog. Straight after the cyclone life was extremely difficult, especially for those who’ d lost homes or work equipment.
Rebuilding in the Cassowary Coast is still a slow process. Many people have only just had this begin, others will not have rooves until January, some have had no progress at all and a local Church has been fully closed and had its land desanctified until a new one can be be built. Students at a recent project presentation event for years ten said Yasi was the ‘ugliest’ thing of their year and had impacted their ability to present their projects as well as they could have.
Yet despite all this, I am happy to share that at least some of our lives are back on track. Several rooves have been put up and houses have been growing like mushrooms. New Halls are planned. Dormant scaffolds and tarps are decked with people working. At another recent Tully highschool event a rousing rendition of ‘We have Survived’ was met with enormous applause not just because of the fantastic singing but also the sentiment of the song. We have survived but are we thriving yet?
I recently asked some of the people who have generously shared their stories with us all for this blog how they are doing.
It’s ten months on since Cyclone Yasi passed over our paradise neighbourhood and we’re now settled in Brisbane, loving our new faster-paced lifestyle. Everyone has settled into their employment, schools, sporting clubs and music tuition, and seem grateful for the move and the opportunity to meet new friends. We miss our FNQ friends terribly but seem to find this weird kind of peace in skype, phone calls and quirky day to day text messages, not to mention the quick visits to and from coast life to city life.
Often we talk about the beach smells and sounds that we miss whilst in the four walls of our new ‘forever’ house or the feeling of sand between our toes when we walk outside. Then we take a walk through the creek at our doorstep or listen to the birds in the bush and we remember life is what you make it and for us … that’s happy times in whichever part of this small world we live.
More of Carolyn’s account can be found here.
Now we are home again. I had not realised just how badly it was affecting me being away from my place in space and my home. When we left our damaged home, we had to find a name for our two houses. The obvious choice was “Control” and “Kaos”. Our rental place (Control), was comfortable and living in a completely different surrounding was great, but our old house (Kaos) is obviously where we belong.
After the weirdness of moving back into a place which is looks like ours, but doesn’t feel like it, we are slowly returning to some form of normal. Kimbo and I have (well him mostly, I hold things) has been building new shelves to house our TV etc, and bookshelves for our reference books and DVD shelves. The verandah is slowly being cleared of stuff. It is a long process as nothing is coming inside until I have somewhere to put it. Things inside are gradually finding their place.
We have demolished Marni’s roof in the rainforest and have been gradually demolishing other destroyed sheds and bits and pieces. I have made a start on a mural in Miss Marni’s room. . . (you can read the rest of Sal’s account by going to Sal’s Account of Kaos and Control)
Pam and Joe who did not lose their home but had a lot of repair work to do on the farm were so much chirpier when I visited them recently to finish working on their video stories. Joe said in one of the video interviews that although the bush is wrecked now and nature itself seems devastated it will eventually come back.
Pam’s response was:
During the fourth post-cyclone week I slowed down, appreciated the air conditioning and wrote a children’s picture book text – a cyclone story! Joe kept organising and doing farm recovery work but was sleeping after lunch when possible.
Following that our lives seemed fairly normal superficially (unless repair work was going on in the house) but our emotions remain closer to the surface and we need more sleep. Work on the house was completed late September but Joe worked the cane season without one decent farm shed. Foundations for two new sheds are being poured today.
Watching nature cover her scars with green leaves and bright flowers is solace for us.
We try not to show it but we both have more ups and downs than is usual. I know we require a little more recovery time. We need to be gentle and tolerant with each other and with our traumatised community.
More of Pam’s account can be found here
As for my family I think it has been a time of changing shadow’s into light. We know we have so much to be thankful for.
The shadows are most obviously the memory of that terrifying night and the damage done to our community both physically, emotionally and socially – whilst the light has to be the incredible practical angels that have come to the fore, and assisted in the recovery of people’s hearts, the rebuilding (even though painfully slow) and the environment.
We have shelter, family, and have been able to visit with our extended family. On the practical side we have two new pet birds, some very chubby guinea pigs and closer connections with some of our friends.
We are not sure what the future holds. We will remain in the Cassowary Coast for at least the next few months, but we do know whatever happens it will be creative, full of family, music, pets, friends, storytelling and laughter.
Whilst I have been publicly blogging I have been privately writing poetry and songs that express the journey my family have been on since Yasi struck. Creativity as you will have read and seen in many of my posts, has played an important part in helping my family remain optimistic and philosophical about our situation. If you’re reading this and you’re not home yet in the aftermath of any disaster in our country or overseas I hope you are soon. One of my most recent songs ‘November Song’ ends like this and it’s how I’d like to finish this post.You can read the whole song and another one ‘Shadows into Light’ here.
Can’t stop dreaming
Can’t stop believin’
Can’t stop buildin’
Must go on hopin’
Published 02 Dec 2011. Tully QLD 4854
Please note all the ABC Open posts I have archived here that are written by me or have relevance to my family may well have broken links when that site goes down on the 30th of June 2019