Job se­cu­rity a con­cern for Air­lie Beach lo­cals

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS -

Ms Muller’s story is just one of many that came from the Ju­bilee Pocket evac­u­a­tion cen­tre, op­er­at­ing out of the Whit­sun­day PCYC.

For 13-year-old Cody Pet­ter­son it wasn’t about the fear of a cat­e­gory 4 cy­clone, it was about what hap­pens af­ter­wards. He has spent the past few days help­ing out at Whit­sun­day PCYC evac­u­a­tion cen­tre wher­ever he can.

“The cy­clone was hec­tic. Most of the street is just gone, trees ev­ery­where, dogs run­ning around,” he said.

“I told dad (Coun­cil­lor Ron Pet­ter­son) I’m happy to come down to the PCYC and help out. When I came down here ev­ery­thing was fall­ing apart.

“I’ve been through five cy­clones.

“There’s a lot of peo­ple who don’t have homes and don’t have a place to stay and don’t know where to go, so they can come here.

“I just wanted to help.” Whit­sun­day PCYC branch man­ager Sergeant John Dick­in­son said he hadn’t re­ally slept in five days and had been spend­ing all of his wak­ing hours help­ing peo­ple at the cen­tre.

“I was at home bunkered down in Ju­bilee Pocket on top of Wildlife Rd, when the cy­clone hit. It was full on,” he said.

“I came here (to the PCYC) the first op­por­tu­nity I got. It’s about pro­vid­ing the es­sen­tials like food and wa­ter.

“I’ve been through four cy­clones here and that was the worst one.”

The evac­u­a­tion cen­tres at Bowen, Proser­pine and Air­lie Beach are now closed with res­i­dents asked to visit com­mu­nity hubs for as­sis­tance. Hubs have been set up at Can­non­vale State School, Proser­pine High School and Bowen TAFE. ALEXAN­DRA Hansen is a shin­ing ex­am­ple of why tourists shouldn’t write off Air­lie Beach.

Ms Hansen and her friend Reuben Vin­dergeest have al­ready made the tough de­ci­sion to leave the Whit­sun­days due to con­cern over their tourism in­dus­try jobs.

Mean­while their friend and col­league Ari­ana Te­tai has gone to stay with fam­ily in Proser­pine af­ter the house she was rent­ing in Air­lie Beach was de­stroyed by Cy­clone Deb­bie.

“We’re all won­der­ing, how long is the wait­ing game be­fore life re­sumes to nor­mal,” Ms Hansen said.

“Ari has got fam­ily here so she can wait around, but for my­self and Rueben, we can’t re­ally just sit and twid­dle our thumbs in the dark with no power.”

Ms Te­tai said her rented house on Ocean View Av­enue in Air­lie Beach sim­ply wasn’t hab­it­able any more af­ter parts of the roof were lost and win­dows bro­ken.

“The car­pet’s just sat­u­rated with wa­ter, the whole place is drip­ping,” she said.

But the three friends were in re­mark­ably good spir­its de­spite their or­deal.

“I don’t want to com­plain too much be­cause some peo­ple live like this in some parts of the world,” Ms Hansen said.

“So it’s def­i­nitely an ex­pe­ri­ence and it makes you ap­pre­ci­ate what we do have.

“We’ve been dis­cussing the fam­i­lies here with kids they’ve been do­ing it re­ally hard.

“At least we’ve only got our­selves to worry about.”

PHOTO: DANE LILLING­STONE

HIT HARD: Ruth Muller has lost her home in Cy­clone Deb­bie and doesn’t know what she’s go­ing to do.

PHOTO: SHARON SMALL­WOOD

DIS­PLACED: Ari­ana Te­tai, Reuben Vin­dergeest and Alexan­dra Hansen out­side Ari­ana’s un­in­hab­it­able Air­lie Beach home.

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