Sunday, March 26, 2006



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An uncredited photograph of cyclone damage outside of Innisfail -

GENERAL Peter Cosgrove, now leader of the Cyclone Larry Taskforce, has revealed the damage to infrastructure, crops and local businesses is so severe the $100 Federal and State government aid package will need to be doubled, at the minimum, and sooner rather than later.

The damage bill has already reached more than $1 billion for the North Queensland communities and towns that were hit the hardest by Cyclone Larry last Monday moring.

But it is not just the towns through which Cyclone Larry carved a brutal path of destruction that are going to suffer from a massive lack of cash in the months ahead.

Dozens of towns and villages rely on business and income generated by the tropical fruit farms, sugar cane and banana farms wiped out of existence. Thousands of local workers and backpackers will no longer be a part of the regional economies, and now they are gone every business from corner shops and pubs to motels, clothing stores and even local bus companies will suffer.

"The economy here has been totally smashed flat," General Cosgrove told the Nine Network.

"I have to say in my early and possibly less well-informed view (the aid packages) need to be at least doubled, maybe more."



General Peter Cosgrove, now living in Innisfail to oversee the recovery and rebuilding operations, said yesterday the restoration of electricty to dozens of homes and business was a good start towards the "momentum of morale" needed to drive the rebuilding of the battered North Queensland community.

Next on Cosgrove's agenda is firing up the economies of the regions worst hit towns, where thousands of jobs have been lost, along with homes and belongings.

"We've got to get people in a position where some of the businesses, and some of the industries, can get back to work to generate income and to create a sort of momentum of morale," Cosgrove told a pool of reporters in Innisfail.

"When you see Australians, who are wonderfully stoic, having their existence reduced to standing in a shell of a house and wearing clothes that have been donated to them, I find that personally very upsetting. I don't like to see my fellow Aussies going through this."


A very good piece from the Courier Mail following the life of an Innisfail family through the days after the cyclone hit, detailing how they opened their smashed motel to rescue workers and the homeless, feeding and caring for anyone who came to find shelter.

A few extracts from the story, which you can read in full here :

The night before Cyclone Larry hit - "The couple tape the windows on the hotel as rain falls. Dinner is served to the guests and the couple, along with the kids, monitor every movement of the cyclone via radio and television. They still think the cyclone may veer off. 'We were a little scared,' says Lindsay. 'But I was pretty confident of our physical safety because of the strength of the hotel. It's like a fortress.'

"11pm: Lindsay and Christine share a beer on the top veranda overlooking the South Johnstone. The rain is falling and they talk of nothing else but the cyclone – where it is, where it might land, what it might do. 'We were very concerned by that time,' Christine said.

The next day : "Midday. The couple begin making what remains of their rooms inhabitable as emergency workers pour into town looking for accommodation. They don't bother mentioning room rates, offering workers free rooms to sleep in for a few hours. Lindsay fires up the gas barbecue and fries steaks, sausages and potatoes to feed anyone hungry."

Last Friday : "9am:. Lindsay is up at 6am. He greets a guest with just a hint of a self-satisfied smile and asks: 'Do you want bacon and eggs for breakfast?' Having lived hand-to-mouth for four days it doesn't seem possible. But Lindsay ladles out platters of bacon, eggs and cooked tomatoes off his grill, pushing another slice of toast on to a diner before dishing out white bowls full of fruit salad. Someone has found today's newspapers in a nearby newsagent. A smiling diner looks up and smiles expansively, 'It's all just so . . . civilised,' he says."