Saturday, 3 March 2012

Day 63 - True Spirit

A few months after Cyclone Yasi last year, I was asked to contribute to a book called "The True Spirit of Cyclone Yasi", a collection of stories about the event from people who lived through it or helped with the aftermath.

If you're reading this blog in another part of the world, I was asked, and honored, to broadcast to the people of the region as that monstrous weather system battered the north and far north coasts.

The launch of the book was held today at Logan North library, and it was a really lovely morning, with guest speakers from the SES, Salvos, contributors and Bernadette Lawson whose vision it was to collate the stories.

The most touching moment was when one of the guest speakers whose dad and grandmother were at Cardwell when Yasi hit, began to choke up as the emotional memory of her anxiety and the fear she could hear in her dad's voice on that awful night, washed over her.

As someone else finished her speech you could see people throughout the room gently wiping the tears from their eyes. Including me.

You see, it's the feeling of helplessness, that complete inability to be able to ensure the safety of yourself or your loved ones in a situation like that, which stays with you forever.

As that vast cyclone advanced on our coastline, even the most stoic of Queenslanders braced themselves, sick with fear that come morning, many lives would have been lost.

By some miracle, only one person died that night, and that was due to carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator.

I'll never forget the stories I heard that night, the men and women doing their best to remain calm as they heard that howling rage of a wind beating at their homes, the screech of metal as roofs were clawed off, furniture being tossed from room to room, windows smashing, all the while not knowing if the place they had chosen to take shelter was going to disintegrate.

The big clean-up may be over, but the rebuilding of those communities will take a very long time.


  1. Beautifully written. Love the new format too.

  2. You were wonderful that night and helped a whole lot of people get through the night in a caring and empathetic way.
    The strength and character of those who felt the brunt of the category 5 Yasi was and continues to be amazing and inspirational.

  3. Congrats on the book and the broadcasting and yes you are now a published author

  4. Hi Kelly,
    I've wanted to make this comment for so long - so here goes.....

    I've heard stuff that you have said on radio, and also what other people have said, and also what people have written about the floods and cyclones and other natural disasters, and now what you have written. And there is a common thread. And that common thread is summed up in this paragraph that you wrote:

    "You see, it's the feeling of helplessness, that complete inability to be able to ensure the safety of yourself or your loved ones in a situation like that, which stays with you forever"

    Kelly, that is so true. It is also the same feeling I have, despite never being directly, personally affected by those disasters. But I have a serious life threatening illness (is there any other kind) - and I find that the helplessness and inability to do anything to change my situation to be one of the major (overlooked) issues of someone suffering from a terminal illness. Every time you talk about this provides with me some comfort.

    My point of this comment was to tell you that your kind words and lovely thoughts are helping people like me, who are perhaps out of your intended "catchment area" or "demographic" - or that ever the right word is. What I really want to say to you Kelly is simply, "thanks" - and keep doing what you are doing. xx

  5. Thank you for being apart of our journey.
    You are truly an altruistic person with compassion in your heart. I hope you got a chance to get our book "The True Spirit of Cyclone Yasi"...If not please go to the website at where you can purchase it!
    I was so humbled and grateful for your attendance at the launch and what a launch it was! Befitting of all the people who endured and survived the Cat 5.
    Many thanks again to you Kelly...maybe our paths will meet again some day...
    "And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same." - Nelson Mandela

    Until we meet again......Much Love and Kindness......Bernadette Lawson xx

  6. Absolute privilege to have been a part of such a successful book launch. Yes, every person in the room were deeply touched hearing the experiences. I especially noted the expressions on the faces of the Mayor and the SES workers choking up as people relived their horrific stories from their terrifying ordeals. Such a wonderful, uplifitng morning. Thank you all.

  7. I hope you got my last comment, thanks for helping so many people in your radio broadcasts, and for sharing the story of the launch, it is great to know that people are thinking of everyone here in the ongoing recovery.

    June Perkins, Fellow contributor.

  8. Hi June, I appreciate your kind words. I will never forget that night and I am thankful I was able to keep people safe and comforted at some level with that broadcast. I can't wait to read all the stories in the book.