Victim remembers Tracy
SEEING the catastrophe unfold in northern Queensland has bought back distressing memories for one Warwick resident.
The woman – who wished to remain anonymous – was caught in the eye of Cyclone Tracy in 1974, and remains haunted by the vivid memories.
She said her most terrifying experience was feeling, and nearly dying from, the enormous pressure.
“It's called explosive deepening – it's when the eye of the cyclone shrinks rapidly and that increases the pressure exponentially,” she explained.
“We were told to open all the windows on the side away from the storm, to prevent dangerous pressure from building up inside. As soon as the eye started shrinking, all of the windows and door to the room I was in slammed shut.
“Because the pressure was so intense, and was different inside the house to what it was outside, I couldn't breathe or move – I was just paralysed. I felt like my lungs were being crushed and in my ears it felt like someone had a drill there. It was so painful.”
The 58-year-old said she would have died if it hadn't been for a quick-thinking friend.
“Luckily we had a person staying with us who couldn't go back home because of the cyclone,” she said.
“Somehow he managed to open a door, and as soon as that happened the pressure equalised.”
The survivor said the force of the storm picked up sand and took paint off cars on the street. The gale force winds lifted the roof off her Nightcliff house, one of the worst-hit areas in Darwin.
She was told by defence response personnel that more than 80 per cent of deaths were caused from the explosive deepening, and its associated pressure.
The woman said she was “still terrified”, 23 years later, when she reflects on her ordeal. She said she felt a strong sense of anxiety for those in Cyclone Yasi's path.
“The way it's developed and its strength, I reckon they'll have to create a new category six to measure it,” she said.
“I just hope people in its path have been evacuated. There might be some who want to stay and watch it, but it's the worst thing you can do. You think it could be exciting, but once the danger hits it's like nothing you can prepare for.”