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The Apocalypse

by Wendy

I was 9 the night Cyclone Tracy hit. Early that afternoon, my Dad, who has a v deep understanding of weather, had a strong feeling that the impact was going to be worse than predicted. He phoned Mum and asked her to shut her shop early and collect us kids. Driving home, it was already windy and the sky was dark and heavy with clouds that were a strange, deep shade of green. Birds were screeching and flying south. The street lights were on! “Mum, what time is it?” “4 o’clock”, she said.

We went to bed early that night. Just before midnight Mum asked us kids to put on our raincoats and join them in their room. I sat on the floor next to Dad who had opened some louvres to let out some of the air pressure in our house. 1/4 mile away, we saw the roof peel off a house. “We’re next”, I said. Mum and my sister lay under the bed. Dad and I were next to it. THEN IT HIT. Suddenly, our house was imploding and exploding all around us. The walls, windows, cupboards, ceiling and fan all crashing down on top of us, embedding the legs of the bed into the floor. My sister lost the feeling in her leg. Debris was swirling all around us. A piece of corrugated iron came flying towards my neck. Dad grabbed a piece of plaster board that was flying by and held it over my neck - it ricocheted off but sliced through the tendons in his hand.

Suddenly, the wind and the rain stopped. We were in the eye. Then it started to pelt with rain - hard, stinging rain. I stuck out my tongue to get a drink but all I could taste was pure salt. Then the wind whipped up again - the second wall. We lay as flat as we could, clinging to the floorboards as all of the debris that was on and around us was swept away. Once Tracy had passed, we climbed down the stair-rail and sat in our car until daybreak. When we eventually ventured out to the street - Mum in her flimsy nighty, Dad his PJs and us kids still in our raincoats - it looked and felt like an apocalypse. Total destruction for as far as our eyes could see in every direction. A long caravan was hanging vertically by 2 wheels embedded in the side of the last remaining wall of a neighbour’s house. Our boat was nowhere to be seen. Miraculously, our 2 cats survived.

Two days later, we managed to fly to Adelaide where Mum phoned her sister to let her know we were ok & on our way. We eventually moved to Brisbane. These days, I live on the other side of the world but when I zoom in on the satellite image of our old block of land, I can see the Pandanus Palm that Dad planted all those years ago when we moved in - now beautiful, wide and tall. WE WERE THERE for the happiest days of our lives. We lost everything but each other & our cats that night but I learned an invaluable & pivotal lesson about the power of Mother Nature that informed the way I see and understand our world. For that, I am grateful.

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