We survived! Cyclone season in Port Hedland

Port Hedland Travel Blog

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The satelite picture of the cyclones, which shows the size. We are under the one on the North West coast, George, and Jacob is to the North West out to sea.

We are still here.  That may sound a little dramatic, but had you been here, you' d be happy to say the same!  Cylone George, which was supposed to be heading north of us, decided to do a dramatic U-turn Wednesday night, and instead nose dived straight for our sleepy town of Port Hedland.  We woke up Thursday morning to a flurry of activity, as everyone got ready for a storm that, if it kept its current intensity of category 4, was going to hit us with 275 kms winds and hurricane like rainfall.  Everything that could be blown away had to be tied down or put away, and we had to clear everything from our ground floor rooms in case a sea surge flooded us out.

The trees still bent over by the winds the day after cyclone George, when the wind strenght had dropped dramatically.
  Exciting stuff!

We started our shift in the bistro at around 6pm when we were under yellow alert, which meant we had to prepare for the upcoming storm which could arrive within two hours.  We served the in house guests who naturally were not working, as most ships had gone out to deep sea to avoid the storm.  At around 7.30 the television and radio broadcasts were interupted to advise us that we were now under Red alert, which meant that we had fifteen minutes to close the hotel down as the strom was heading straight for us and just miles away.  Just as we finshed reading the announcement, the power went as if right on cue, and we started to ask everyone to leave as soon as was possible.  The guests went to their cyclone proof rooms, we went and got our night bags and essentials from our non-cyclone proof rooms, and starting settling down for a night on the floor of one of the hotels function rooms.

Some storm damage right next to our staff quaters. And some fencing that wasnt there the night before!
  At this stage the wind was nothing short of furious, bending the trees backwards and lifting sand and small debris like they were peices of paper.  So needless to say the run to our room was a manic one!

We shared the function room floor with around ten other staff members, watching dvds and talking as the wind raged outside.  Around one or two in the morning the worst of the storm hit, and we started getting calls from worried residents about how safe their rooms really were.  We finally started nodding off one by one, and we were all sleeping by around 4 when we received a call from an Australian television network asking how much damage the storm was causing!  As if we could see outside!  The night passed without further incident for us, and it seems we were lucky to be where we were, as we found out the next day.

Sweeping the water out of our partially flooded room.
  We woke early and headed back to our room, through the hotels grounds which looked like a bomb had exploded.  Debris was everywhere, trees were literally bent double and some had fallen, and even some metal fences that must have weighed a few tonnes were dragged across the grounds.  Our room had a small flood on one side, luckily not the side our bed was on, but we swept it out and got ready for our shift to start.  No rest for the wicked.

We began to hear stories during the day of fatalities, a woman at a mining camp ten miles north had died when her donger (like a mobile home) came apart around her and the roof fell on her.  Another couple had been killed somewhere up the coast, a similar story.  Three dead in all.  Many buildings had lost their roofs,  a local pizzerea, the local yaught club, tonnes of houses, and 8 flying doctors and 16 nurses were flown in to treat the wounded.

Some miners waiting for their taxi to work, outside our hotel. Notice the cloudy sky, rare in Port Hedland!
  The storm maintained its category 4 status until well inland, and loads of mining camps were either damaged or destroyed, but most had fortunately been evacuated.  We got our power back within 24 hours so we have done quite well here at the hotel, but it is one of the few mostly brick buildings around here, most of the houses here and in large parts of Australia are just steel or tin.  Lucky for us we were not, as things may have been different. 

And so you'd think thats where our cyclone story would end, but we were told that night as we set about our dinner shift that another one was heading our way, cyclone Jacob.  That was supposed to hit last night, Sunday, but instead it breezed passed us today and was only a category one, not the category three it had been two days before, so no damage done.

Some of the damage the cyclone did.
  The night before the torrential rain had been so strong our room started to flood again, but we used towels to keep the rain out so it ended all right.  We are both fine, if a little sick of cyclones now like the rest of the staff, we've had our cyclone experience now and thats enough for us.  Our manager just walked in to tell us that we are now all clear for the moment, so we will be taking the tape off the windows and reverting back to normal as soon as possible.  Its all ended ok for us, and hopefully the poor sods without roofs and power will get it back soon.  Hopefully this is the last blog you'll read about cyclones in Port Hedland from us!!

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The satelite picture of the cyclon…
The satelite picture of the cyclo…
The trees still bent over by the w…
The trees still bent over by the …
Some storm damage right next to ou…
Some storm damage right next to o…
Sweeping the water out of our part…
Sweeping the water out of our par…
Some miners waiting for their taxi…
Some miners waiting for their tax…
Some of the damage the cyclone did.
Some of the damage the cyclone did.
Us getting ready for a long night …
Us getting ready for a long night…
Port Hedland
photo by: lealealou