Slow steps in recovery to the Yasi nightmare
JULIA-JINX Lootensrushes to pick up carpentry debris on the deck of her partly rebuilt Tully Heads home.
There is a sense of urgency in her movements, not quite panic, but with breaking waves in a dirty brown sea only 100m away from the house, a 25-knot wind blowing in from the southeast and driving rain drenching everyone to the skin, she's not taking any chances.
The rain is threatening to cut the road between Tully Heads and the Bruce Highway.
She has a plane to catch out of Townsville for Sydney the next morning and she needs to pack and get on the road before Silky Oak Creek rises and cuts the road.
But, instead of packing, she rushes around picking up timber off-cuts and pieces of wet Gyprock from the deck and throwing them into a hole where they can be buried.
She is worried about the wind turning them into missiles.
Wind, rain, a foaming sea. This is all it takes to trigger the memory of what happened at Tully Heads just days from now in 2011.
It was late on the night of February 2 that Cyclone Yasi crossed the coast.
It wasn't until daylight the next day that the wind dropped and people poked their heads out into the eerie silence to survey a landscape of broken homes, fallen trees, roads covered with sand, rocks and sheets of iron.
Ms Lootens was one of them.
Her beachfront house was torn apart by wind.
The sea came in and washed through, taking personal possessions with it as it flowed though to the swamp behind Tully Heads.
Much-loved books and the letters her soldier father wrote to her mother during World War II all ended out there somewhere in the swamp never to be found.
One step at a time.
That's what it is taking.
She is almost there.
She thinks the house will be finished by the end of this year. Like nearly everyone affected by Yasi she had to jump through the insurance company hoops.
She spent months after the cyclone simply sitting on the phone wasting hour after hour while work was screaming to be done, just trying to get someone at her insurers to talk to her.
She told her story, the same story, to so many different sets of ears over those months that it reached a point where it went beyond frustration and exasperation.
It in itself became another huge burden to bear and added to the sense of hopelessness already nailed into the psyche by the cyclone.
Speak to any Yasi victim, they all have similar tales to tell.
The plastic sheeting is still on the stove and cupboards in what will be the new kitchen.
Her excitement at the thought of soon having a proper kitchen is barely containable.
"In another few weeks it will be truly liveable and by the end of the year it will be finished completely," she said.
Ms Lootens' slow recovery from the cyclone is not out of the ordinary.
There are others still slogging on towards that final step of the recovery process.
For nearly everyone now the physical recovery is all but completed.
It is the mental recovery that takes longer.
After Larry in 2006 and Yasi in 2011, both big cyclones that did enormous damage, people now hear an imaginary wind howling in their mind when the possibility of a cyclone is mentioned.
They hear the rain and wind, the screech of long, rusted nails tearing from timber and iron peeling from roofs.
They hear the thud and clang of hardwood beams and steel slamming into the outside walls.
Noises like that never go away.
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Still waiting: Two years on from the destruction of Cyclone Yasi, Tully Heads resident Julia-Jinx Lootens is still rebuilding. Picture: EVAN MORGAN