Tough year takes its toll on hardworking cyclone Yasi heroes
A year ago today, the biggest cyclone in memory smashed into the Far North Queensland coast. Residents lost their homes, farmers lost their crops and businesses lost their livelihoods. How is the impact zone faring one year on? Meet the heroes of Yasi.
LIKE many who experienced Yasi, Tully SES controller Trevor Baillie smiles while he talks about last year's immense storm, trying to be positive.
But as he mused over the past year yesterday, he admitted to feeling tired, physically and mentally – and his eyes back up his words.
The no-fuss truck driver and his team of volunteers have had an intense year tarping houses in their battered community and battling the weather. And it is all done out of a sense of duty, after a full day’s work and on their weekends.
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Mr Baillie is not complaining, just describing the task SES volunteers have had since Yasi, a job that is nowhere near complete.
"A year on the tarps we put up after Yasi are disintegrating but so many of the houses are not fixed," he said.
"So we have been going around putting new tarps up.
"I had hoped to be finished now, but with the wet season a lot of building work has stopped and people still need our help, and will for a very long time."
Mr Baillie was among the volunteers and emergency personal recognised by Premier Anna Bligh at a thank you breakfast barbecue yesterday, as communities gathered to mark a year since cyclone Yasi.
The weather bureau is still deciding if Yasi was a category 5 storm or not, but with winds up to 285km/h and a 5m storm surge, the people who responded immediately after the cyclone said the devastation spoke for itself.
While speaking about the work they have put in since the cyclone, Ms Bligh called them "disaster heroes" and said communities and the Government would be eternally grateful for their dedication and grit.
She also used the breakfast to announce a further $1.5 million for community groups affected by the cyclone, with projects including a community playground at Tully Heads and a therapy and well-being centre at Tully School.
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Thanks: Scott Ervin, Christine Jenkins, Rita Porter and James Hall at yesterday’s thank you breakfast for emergency services personnel and volunteers who helped in the aftermath of cyclone Yasi.