Across Continents

Ken's Blog

Cyclone Yasi

Five am local. Cairns. Not yet light. Eerie. A few people wandering around. Waiting. Overnight Cyclone Yasi’s predicted track has shifted a little south towards the coastal town of Innisfail. But such is the sheer size of the system – the eye is over sixty miles across – considerable destruction is still expected here. No one is under any illusions about what’s about to happen.

The system is expected to make landfall around midnight tonight, intensifying to maximum Category 5 as it approaches the coast. Its effects being felt long before that. Power grid already down. Emergency generator kicked in.

The last flights out of Cairns have left. The major regional hospital next door evacuated overnight by the Royal Australian Air Force. The big concern remains tidal surge, especially as much of Cairns is built on former mangrove swamp. Some of it below sea level. Possibility of metres of seawater inundating the city.

Faced with my travellers hostel being flooded out, I made a snap decision earlier to relocate to a hotel nearby that should be bit safer. Emma and all the kit stowed on the sixth floor. In the windowless bathroom that will be my refuge if things get really tough. Also stocked with a week’s worth of tinned food, water and fuel. For the aftermath.

Plan is to try and capture the events of the next few days as best I can. Cameras charged. Notebook ready. Cyclones are regular occurrences here, but it seems Yasi is a monster. Unknown territory. I’ll be doing my level best to share my first hand experiences via the web – my own website, Facebook and Twitter – as circumstances permit. Contingency plan in place to at least get the odd ’tweet’ out via my satellite phone. It’s going to be emotional. And it’s my birthday…

[Author’s note: You should also see a few other posts appearing each evening, unconnected with Cyclone Yasi, for a couple more days – these are ones I’ve already uploaded onto my UK server and scheduled for publication]

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