CY­CLONE SUR­VIVORS CON­NECT

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Peter Car­ruthers

SHAUN Mountney was re­search­ing his fa­ther’s in­volve­ment as a deck­hand dur­ing Cy­clone Ada when he stum­bled across a host of per­sonal sto­ries he thought needed to be told.

“There was just so much in­for­ma­tion. I would ring peo­ple up and say, ‘Do you know about this?’ And they would say ‘no’,” he said.

“One is­land didn’t know what hap­pened on the other is­land. I thought I have to do some­thing with this.”

His book, ti­tled Cy­clone Ada Marine Crew, was launched at the Reef Gateway Ho­tel on Satur­day, which also pro­vided a chance for sur­vivors to re­unite, some for the first time since that fate­ful day in 1970.

About 27 peo­ple wrote first­hand ac­counts for the book and the re­union of­fered some of them – like Em­press skip­per Allen South­wood – a chance to face the fear that has haunted him since the night of Jan­uary 17, 1970.

“I have had a lot of sleep­less nights re­liv­ing it all and I was re­ally a bit fright­ened show­ing up here to­day, but I did be­cause all my old mates are here I have known for 50 years,” he said.

Mr South­wood said af­ter the cy­clone and fix­ing his boat, he had to con­tinue to make a liv­ing op­er­at­ing a boat in the Whit­sun­days.

“I was a bit fright­ened cruis­ing around. I would see a cloud in the sky and go and hide be­hind an is­land,” he said, adding he even­tu­ally came to ac­cept bad weather and the risk of a cy­clone as part of the job. “And with that I was right,” he said. “It has only come back to haunt me the last six months or so.”

Mr Mountney said rather than feel­ing sad­ness at the loss of lives and the de­struc­tion, there was joy in the room at the Reef Gateway Ho­tel.

Glo­ria De­Mar­tini, who helped col­late the sur­vivors’ sto­ries for the book, also de­scribed it as a “very spe­cial day”. The book costs $15 and can be or­dered on the Cy­clone Ada Marine Crew Face­book page.

TO­GETHER AGAIN: Sur­vivors of Cy­clone Ada come to­gether for the launch of the Cy­clone

SPE­CIAL DAY: Shaun Mountney and Glo­ria De­Mar­tini at the Cy­clone Ada book launch.

Whit­sun­day MP Ja­son Costi­gan at the event on Satur­day.

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