We survived! Cyclone season in Port Hedland
Port Hedland Travel Blog› entry 3 of 7 › view all entries
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.