Evacuation. Cyclone Hamish. What to take?


Well, what an interesting weekend!  On Friday, I spoke at a luncheon in Gladstone, Queensland as a guest of the Australian Institute of Management.  It was a long weekend, so I was on holidays when lunch was through.  I took a helicopter (very decadent, but I suffer terribly from sea sickness, so it’s worth the money) to a remote island off the coast of Queensland, Heron Island.

I was there just one night when I saw the notices pinned up from the Bureau of Meteorology.  Cycle Hamish was headed straight for us.  It was rated category 4, the second highest strength.  Severe tropical cyclone Hamish!  I knew we would soon be evacuated from Heron Island.  (Hotel operators take note:  The staff at Heron’s Voyager resort calmly and efficiently evacuated hundreds of staff and guests in a timely manner with the upmost professionalism.  My three day holiday had not been spoiled: I was in good hands.  They communicated brilliantly- printed evacuation notices, group meetings, and clear instructions every step of the way. By the time I woke the next morning, windows had been taped, furniture shuffled to the safest posititions, baggage collected and taken to the dock and a hot breakfast was still to be enjoyed thanks to the cheerful stuff.  Bearing in mind, many of the staff have homes on the Island and were at risk of losing all their belongings. Kudos to them!)

My only regret was not being able to return to the mainland by chopper but I did survive (just) the 2 hour boat trip back.  I knew the airport would soon close and as I’d made all the phone calls, I knew there were zero seats on any earlier flights.  I decided to organise a hire car and make the 7 hour drive to Brisbane.

Now safely just north of Brisbane 600 odd k’s further south, I am again on the coast and the weather has followed.  Strong winds, rain and much anticipation is here.  Is there a possibility the airport will close?  I hope I can make my return flight this evening to Melbourne.  The cyclone is now rated the highest possible rating: rating 5.

This morning, the friends I am staying with pondered the “what if the roof comes off?” situation.  We are on the very beachfront, upstairs in an old, timber building. I asked “what would you take?”

The response:  “We talked about that yesterday.  Had a bit of a discussion about it.  We decided nothing.  We decided there was nothing we could live without, and it’s all insured and we’ve got really good computer back up [off site] anyway.  If the roof was really coming off, we would grab Birdy Bird [their cockatiel].”

What’s interesting about this comment is the amount of stuff this couple own. They have rich lives full of passions and interests.  Their home and office space contains many beautifully ordered shelves and storage nooks holding books, nic nacks, electronics (they are a bit geeky), memorabilia, etc.  You name it – they own it! As you walk through their space, it’s evident they are genuinely passionate about all that they own by the way items are stored, displayed, honoured or used.  It’s true function plus form.  All the practical stuff, but plenty of heart too.

All that collecting, all those lovely squirelled bits and pieces… but at the end of the day, they would walk away, with only what matters.  Each other.

Bless.

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