1st of Feb 2011(Tuesday)- The day I went to work and was informed by my friends of the severity of the cyclone. On the way to work, I was asking Gill to get some stuff but being the way he is, he just took it as a joke. As the day wore on, new updates from the internet made me realize of the severity of the storm. I decided to grab what I could and go home to prepare for the worst. We live in a townhouse but I wasn't sure of anything because the newspapers said we could get a storm surge ! I got back from work and my panic mode started I guess. I started packing stufff, asking Gill to get serious and he wasn't as serious as I'd hoped he would be even then. I did ask him to get my my valuables from the bank(which he reckons is a joke) because if I died, I wanted to be close to physical reminders of my family. We needed batteries for the torch and my dear hubby went and got one pair only. I requested masking tape but he did not think we needed it. My line manager said at that stage, we were expected to drop into work the next day because it was only on 03/02/11(Thursday) that it was expected to strike. So I started packing with minimal support from Gill because as per him, it would not strike Townsville. It was exhausting mentally and physically to think of what all needed to be done and what all could happen but nevertheless, like a tortoise, I kept a slow and steady pace.Gill tried to help when he could, but he needed his IPad breaks every 5 minutes or so. I was so stressed but I cooked,packed, fought with Gill, and the cycle went on.
2nd Feb 2011(Wednesday)- I was in no state to go to work because our area came under a possible evacuation zone and I called up the SES for some information and that is when my dear husband realized that it was not a joke. I had been pleading with him for masking tape for the past 1 day very strictly and many days before that as well and at 8:00 am he decided to wake up from his sleep and act. He still needed me to help him plan and search for things. As the morning grew, so did my irritability. We wasted a precious hour but managed to find more spare batteries for the torch and some masking tape. All throughout, I was tense and stressed and Gill was calm and humourous. We were silent as we put the masking tape on the doors and windows. It didn't help because the emotions the cyclone warnings brought out in me were a mixed bunch ! Then the endless packing continued. We were kind of stuck in a rut as to where we'd go if the roof blew off AND if the house got flooded because really, where would we go? I called up the SES and they said if we had not been evacuated so far, we might be safe from flooding. The important word was "might" but Gill decided to take a chance anyway ! I decided to tell my parents because I didn't want to die without talking to my parents... Dad came out with a lot of useful suggestions and mom with her endless prayers. We desperately hunted for a portable radio but had no luck with one. At exactly 4:20p.m. we lost power. Then the countdown started. One of my friends from Melbourne was constantly texting me about the warnings and keeping me updated about the cyclone(cannot thank her enough for every minute by minute update). Our refuge was the laundry which gave us the space of being in an area of 3 feet by 5 feet. Thankfully the toilet was attached to it and there was a small window for air in it. Till 9:30pm we were sitting in the lounge trying to soak in as much of breeze as possible and then it got too windy to sit in the lounge without thinking that trees might be flying around soon. So we entered our den and stayed put for the rest of the night.
03/02/11 Thursday- I was listening to the radio on my cell at midnight and I heard it being announced that the cyclone Yasi's eye is crossing the coast now. It got scarier and the winds grew louder and louder. My neighbours and I were trying to flash our lights through the gate to see if water had started entering our premises or not. I cannot describe the winds in words. Listening to people sitting through Tully, Cardwell made me thankful that we were safe in our little laundry. As I silently prayed for mother nature to have pity on us humans, I was also saddened to hear about those who were beginning to lose the roofs of their houses. It was the longest night ever and I would peep out to try and see and the way the trees around swayed made me so scared. It was not pitch black, on the contrary, due to the rain bearing clouds, it was more of a mix of grey and red so I could make out what was happening to the trees around. We used the newspaper to try and fan ourselves taking turns sitting through the night. At 1:00 am, I woke Gill up because I couldn't see the gate and if the water had come through because it was pouring too hard. We decided to brave sitting in the lounge. We had barely sat in the lounge for a couple of minutes when the winds got even more stronger and I felt we would be hit by some kind of debris soon. So off we went in the laundry again. Gill had charged the ipad and it was his way of killing time. Gill made me go to sleep on our little mat at around 1:30 am and I remember dozing off and waking up to screeching winds. My dad called up at around 4:30 am and I heard Gill tell him that the worst was over. I woke up but it was still very,very windy. We decided to come in the bedroom and assess any damage. It was a miracle that none of the glass had broken. The winds were still very strong but we were desperate for some sleep so we crashed on the bed. I remember waking up at around 11:00 am and it was still windy. I took a shower after Gill and thankfully we were still getting water. We had filled up the bathtub and had some drinking water stored as well. Then as we sat in the car to tune in to the radio we heard that water might be turned off in addition to the power. Thankfully it did not happen and we stepped to see the damage the storm had done and it was shocking to see large old trees uprooted and lying strewn around in the streets. It was as if someone came and decided to trim them in an ugly way and then kicked them off so their remaining dignity would be gone too.
As the days have gone by, we have gone through a roller-coaster ride of emotions but it has taught me many lessons. We were without power for 70 hours, during this time, I realised the love of those who truly cared for me. It also made me realise the things we take for granted. That includes the love of our dear ones. I would not have made it sanely without Gill trying to be his humorous self and now when I look back, he was really funny even though at that time, I felt I could rip my hair apart.
My heart goes out to all those who have lost so much of their lives in this short time span but the people in this state are resilient and very helpful to one another.
Truly, I have learned a lot of things and one of them is GRATTITUDE...