Cy­clone mem­o­ries 47 years apart

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS - Ja­cob Wil­son ja­cob.wil­son@whit­sun­day­times.com.au

FEW peo­ple have the ex­pe­ri­ence of cy­clones Ada and Deb­bie etched in their mem­o­ries more deeply than Proser­pine res­i­dent Coleen Hill.

On the evening of Jan­uary 17, 1970, Mrs Hill’s wed­ding re­cep­tion came to an abrupt end as peo­ple evac­u­ated from the be­gin­ning of Cy­clone Ada.

And as Cy­clone Deb­bie hit the Whit­sun­day Coast on March 28 this year, Mrs Hill turned 68.

While Cy­clone Ada claimed 14 lives and no lives were lost from Cy­clone Deb­bie, Mrs Hill put that down to bet­ter prepa­ra­tion 47 years on.

“We were more pre­pared and had more warn­ing but Cy­clone Deb­bie was still far worse than Cy­clone Ada,” she said.

“Cy­clone Ada was over by the next morn­ing, while Deb­bie went from day af­ter day and the big elec­tri­cal storm was more in­tense.”

Ailsa Reinke from the Proser­pine Musuem agreed that Deb­bie was more de­struc­tive.

“I think this one was more in­tense, it seemed to be re­lent­less and I’m surprised there wasn’t more dam­age,” she said.

Mrs Hill said there was one vivid sim­i­lar­ity link­ing the two cy­clonic ex­pe­ri­ences to­gether.

“Driv­ing to Air­lie af­ter the cy­clone and look­ing at the hills and see­ing trees with­out their leaves and see­ing the de­struc­tion out that way was sim­i­lar,” she said.

While the dam­age bill from Cy­clone Deb­bie is un­der­stood to be more than $1 bil­lion, Cy­clone Ada is es­ti­mated to have caused $12 mil­lion of dev­as­ta­tion – which, ac­cord­ing to an Aus­tralian in­fla­tion cal­cu­la­tor, equates to more than $133 mil­lion to­day.

Other es­ti­mates claim the dam­age bill would have been closer to $330 mil­lion in to­day’s terms.

PHOTO: PETER CAR­RUTHERS

SAME BUT DIF­FER­ENT: Coleen Hill has vivid recol­lec­tions of cy­clones Ada and Deb­bie.

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