Clouds rolled slowly over the Townsville sky on the morning of Wednesday, February 2nd as YWAMers gathered at the base for the first of what would become several meetings over the course of a few days. Cyclone Yasi, one of the largest cyclones in Australia’s history, was headed for the region of North Queensland.
After settling down, over 200 students and staff were waiting anxiously in the auditorium to hear the latest update of the storm. Though we were over 300 km from the storm’s eye, there was still a high chance of destructive, heavy winds. All the precautions were being taken; yards being cleared, bottles of water being filled and radios charged up.
We were debriefed on our situation and last minute items were taken care of before everyone headed back to their homes to bunker down. The location of our centre is at the bottom of a hill, far from any storm surges or high tides. Homes closer to the water were being sandbagged and boarded up from heavy winds off the water. Thanks to Castle Hill, which has long been the reason we never receive any relief from the heat, we were now protected from the storm’s ugliest face.
After lunch time, everyone was locked behind their doors for the remainder of the day. Power was still on and we were glued to the news, watching the whirling clouds inch slowly towards the coast of North Queensland. Trees were already starting to bend under the heavy winds and leaves were being tossed on to the streets.
As the skies darkened, the winds grew stronger and around 9 pm, the television and air conditioners came to a sudden halt. The only sound now was the wind and rain outside, thundering loudly against panes of glass.
Those who could sleep slept soundly through the gale force winds. Others watched the storm through windows, praying silently that the worst would come and go quickly. Only a short ways up the coast, small towns were experiencing the brunt of the cyclone. We were merely on the fringes of it.
The next morning, strong gusts were still blowing, due to the sheer size of Cyclone Yasi. We were told to stay indoors and while we waited patiently, we surveyed the damage from our windows. Trees and power lines were down all around our street and as we found out later, we were the lucky ones.
Once we were all back together after the storm, there were sighs and looks of relief, knowing that we had suffered little damage and everyone was safe. Some even found the night enjoyable.
“Being cooped up with 18 other girls in my flat was such a fun experience,” said Claire Pratt, one the January DTS students. “Even in the midst of discomfort and humidity, we had an awesome time getting to know each other on a whole other level.”
Others, after watching what had happened to the towns up north, were overwhelmed with gratitude.
“Going through a storm of that magnitude was kind of surreal,” exclaimed Chelsea Lamb, another DTS student. “It didn’t really hit me until I saw the damage afterwards, just how thankful I was for God’s protection over us.”
Though many trees and power lines went down, the extent of damage in our area was fairly limited. Many are still without power and are doing their best to stay positive in an inconvenient time. But with the devastation in towns north of us, everyone is grateful. To hear what YWAM is doing to help the community around us, please stay updated on this site! More to come soon.