Damaged, not defeated
Airlie Cove back after a battering
WHEN Michael Quigley knew BIG 4 Airlie Cove Resort and Van Park would have the opportunity to host a Tourism Whitsundays networking night, he wanted to make a statement.
As manager of the resort, Mr Quigley decided he would renovate the pool area and marry the networking night with the pool’s official re-opening.
“We were going to drain our pool, sand everything back, repaint it, get some nice tile mosaics in there and then re-do the gardens and the pathways,” he said.
“We even got those awesome neon lights.”
But nearly a week after the pool’s completion, Tropical Cyclone Debbie hit the Whitsundays, devastating the resort and the newly-refurbished pool area.
“We had just filled it (with) 250,000 litres of water,” Mr Quigley said.
“In the cyclone, (the pool) got eight trees in it and about a foot of mud, grime and dirt, and so afterwards we had to drain it, fix it, clean it and fill it back up.
“In the span of about three weeks, the pool used about half a million litres of water.”
The cyclone may have passed, but the worst was yet to come when the following night, a severe storm battered the resort, causing flooding.
“There was a foot and a half of water in the office,” Mr Quigley said.
“I came down the next morning and there was an inch of mud through the entire house and office. It was devastating.
“Up the back (of the resort) we have some ensuite sites and all of those got flooded.
“The water was so high it was above the toilets.”
It took 400 truckloads of green waste, a team of dedicated staff and nine weeks, but last Thursday Airlie Cove finally hosted their networking night.
“It was fantastic having everyone there,” Mr Quigley said.
“There were so many amazing stories of encouragement. There’s a lot of people who were hit worse than us and there’s lots of people who were better off than us (but) hearing the encouragement of how everyone’s rebuilding was amazing.”
Due to the extent of the damage, half the resort will remain closed for another three to six months, with 17 cabins still out of use as well as another 50 sites.
But Mr Quigley said in addition to those sites that were up and running, the resort was open to day guests who could utilise the pool for a small fee.
BACK ON TRACK: Airlie Cove employees, Tara Craig, Sue Sloan, Betty Lightfoot, Christine Wickham, Michael Quigley, Sue Large and Bianca Paradies outside the pool which had eight trees fall in it during Cyclone Debbie.