Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Cyclone Larry : One Year Later

The Queensland town of Innisfail before Category 5 Cyclone Larry struck on March, 2006

And after....

Twelve months ago today, a Category 5 cyclone ploughed into into townships in North Queensland.

Cyclone Larry was one of the most powerful cyclones to make landfall in Australia's recorded history. In just over seven hours, the cyclone exploded from a Category 2 storm to a Category 5, with a storm frontage more than 400kms wide.

The small north Queensland community of Innisfail was the hardest hit, with more than 50% of the town's houses, schools and businesses being all but destroyed. The cyclone absolutely devastated Australia's banana growing industry, robbing the newly homeless of jobs and livelihoods.

One year later, rebuilding in Innisfail goes on, while most of the banana plantations have been restored and farmers find themselves in the ironic position of having too many bananas and not enough people to harvest them.

There's a lot of good news in Innisfail today, but the cyclone has taken a heavy toll on locals, and for some, the rebuilding of their lives and homes still has a long way to go.

Here's a couple of stories detailing Innisfail today, and the one-year-later aftermath :

Cyclone Legacy Haunts Survivors

Queensland Residents Mark Cyclone Larry Anniversary

Farmers Still Feeling The Effects Of Cyclone Larry

Innisfail Looks To The Future After Larry

In the immediate aftermath of Cyclone Larry, on March 20, 2006, numerous incredible stories of survival came to light. There were also countless examples of Australia's enormous generosity to those who need the most help, as well as some prime examples of Queenslanders notorious black humour : international television audiences were stunned to hear locals cracking jokes as they picked through the wreckage of their lives.

Within hours of the devastation being aired on morning television, hundreds of electricians, plumbers and builders from across the country were driving, trucking and flying to Innisfail to volunteer their skills, materials and energy towards the recovery and rebuilding.

While the generosity, empathy and kindness shown was a perfect example of what means to be an Australian, there was also the appalling spectacle of Sydney columnist Miranda Devine and her sickening assessment of how the locals were coping in the week after the cyclone hit.

Devine called the young mothers who'd lost their homes, and then queued in the rain for days to get nappies and food for their kids, a pack of "whingers", because they had dared to complain about their terrible situation.

Devine, a professional writer, claimed they were afraid of "hard work".

The Innisfail locals dubbed Devine "Moet Miranda" and she was eventually pressured into apologising (sort of) by a torrent of mail and complaints.

The story of Cyclone Larry is the story of how a small Australian community survived just about the worst that nature could throw at it.

It is the story of how a small town in desperate need was embraced by the rest of the nation (with some exceptions), and how they coped with the shocking aftermath.

Below you will find a selection of stories from the blog we began twelve hours before Cyclone Larry made landfall. The 'Cyclone Larry : The Aftermath' blog covers the night and next day of the storm in detail, with regular updates during the following month as Innisfail began to recover and rebuild.

Cyclone Larry is an Australian story that should not be forgotten.

(You'll need to excuse some of the hideous formatting on some stories. This was our first major blog project, and a lot of it was done superfast)

Seven Hours To Landfall

US Warships Fled Cyclone Larry Path Three Days Before It Hit

Cyclone Larry Sweeps Into Innisfail

95% Of Australia's Banana Crop Destroyed, Claims Queensland MP

Innisfail Destroyed By Cyclone - Hundreds Of Homes Laid To Waste

Innisfail's Anger And Black Humour - International Television Audiences Stunned By Locals Cracking Jokes As They Pick Through The Wreckage

Australian Army Deploys 400 Into Disaster Zone For What Is Expected To Be Biggest Disaster Recovery Operation In Australian History

Thousands Left Homeless - Families Live In Tents, Collect Rainwater In Buckets As Supplies Slow To Arrive - Water Supplies
Dry Up

Hero Butcher Empties Entire Supply Of Meat Onto Barbecues In Town Centre As Families Queue For Ten Hours In Rain For Emergency Cash And Water

Military Nature Of Recovery Becomes Clear As Former Defence Chief Put In Charge Of All Operations - Rain Falls For Fifth Day As Emergency Supplies Queues Grow Longer

Banana Crisis : Australia's Most Popular Fruit Becomes Its Most Rare And Expensive

Cyclone Aftermath Crisis Exposes Terrible Plight Of Australia's Working Poor - Homes Destroyed, Families Sleeping In Cars, Leaving Destroyed Town With Only $300

The Staggering Loss Of Dignity, The Toll Of Destruction
"Moet Miranda" Devine Cops A Full Serve From The People Of North Queensland

Neighbours Pull Together To Get Started On The Hard Work Of Rebuilding

The Stunning Scope Of Cyclone Larry's Reach And The Tide Of Destruction

"Moet Miranda" Devine Apologises (Sort Of) For Abusing Cyclone Victims, Complains She Was "Verballed"

Recovery : The Good News Starts To Flow, More Money For New Jobs And Training