Five years ago thousands of north Queenslanders bunkered down for what would be one of the biggest cyclones to ever hit the coast.
Cyclone Yasi, packing winds of up to 285 kilometres per hour, bore down on the tropics with the eye striking between Innisfail and Cardwell about midnight on February 3, 2011.
The category five cyclone, which spanned 600 kilometres in length, caused more than a billion dollars in damage, destroying hundreds of homes and flattened banana crops.
Yet there will be no formal commemoration to mark the disaster or celebrate its survivors’ resilience in the towns hit hardest.
Most who lived through the storm and spent months, some even years, cleaning up afterwards just want to forget the disaster.
“I think it’s better left behind,” Mal Mallyon, from Tully Heads, said.
It took him and his wife more than a year to repair their two-storey brick house that was turned inside out on the foreshore.
“Coming back to a house that’d basically been torn apart, that was pretty horrendous,” he said.
“No water for a week, I think power was [out] about a month.”
Many neighbours ‘didn’t bother coming back’
There are about a dozen empty blocks on the same road, where badly damaged homes were bulldozed and never rebuilt.
“Some of them were older people who felt it pretty heavily and didn’t bother coming back again,” Mr Mallyon said.
Judy Pollock, who is also from Tully Heads, keeps just one photograph of her house after the cyclone.
But for her there are reminders of Yasi everywhere.
“You go out into the garden and you’re picking up pieces of glass from the windows, the bricks are all decaying,” she said.
“I think the worst part is the treasurers that you can’t replace.”
Insurance council defends increased premiums
The Mallyon family’s insurance rose from $780 to $4,000 a year after the cyclone.
The Federal Government is still considering the findings of a taskforce set up to reduce insurance premiums.
Warren Entsch, the Liberal National MP whose electorate covers the areas affected by the cyclone, lobbied hard for it to be set up.
“There were stories of absolute horror where prices just went through the roof on insurance. Certainly in multiples of hundreds of percent,” he said.
He is frustrated by the time it has taken to release the report that was finished in November.
“Now that Parliament is sitting again, I’ll be looking at raising this in the next couple of days to see if I can get a copy of the report and see if [the process] can be accelerated.”
The Insurance Council of Australia, which worked with the taskforce, defended the price increases.
Spokesman Campbell Fuller said its members underestimated the risk in north Queensland before Cyclone Yasi.
“Insurers continue to lose money in north Queensland,” he said.
“They collect one dollar for every $1.40 they pay out in insurance premiums.”
Source: ABC News