Dam­aged, not de­feated

Air­lie Cove back af­ter a bat­ter­ing

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS - Inge Hansen inge.hansen@whit­sun­day­times.com.au

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.

PHOTO: INGE HANSEN

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.

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