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Trail of destruction -

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HEATHER EWART, PRESENTER: Floods, cyclones and now fires in Western Australia.

The summer of natural disasters continues. We'll have a report on the fires in Western Australia

But first to Queensland, where virtually none of that state has been left untouched by the
devastating weather of the past month.

The damage bill will probably exceed $500 million.

Today the state's premier Anna Bligh announced the authority charged with rebuilding more than
sixty flooded communities will expand its duties to set up a special office in north Queensland, to
coordinate the rebuilding process after Cyclone Yasi.

But a massive task lies ahead - one which will leave many residents frustrated as they attempt to
return to normality.

Peter McCutcheon reports.

(Red Cross officials greet a cyclone victim)

PETER MCCUTCHEON: Red Cross officials have begun visiting the more remote communities along this
cyclone-ravaged coast and Tully Heads resident Heather wants to tell them her story.

Her friend's station wagon was blasted through the solid brick wall of her garage.

HEATHER: So that's where the car's ended up, in the creek bed out the back.

Yeah, so... that's okay. (teary) It's all okay.


HEATHER: It's just cleaning up.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: Heather's house like hundreds of others is uninhabitable and she is staying with
friends. But relief workers are spreading the word that help is at hand.

RED CROSS OFFICIAL: The Red Cross has got two evacuation centres in Tully - one in Miller Street
and the other one at the hospital.

HEATHER: Okay, yeah.

RED CROSS OFFICIAL: There's food and there's water...

HEATHER: Have they still got them open for people to stay in and...?

RED CROSS OFFICIAL: Yes, they have.

HEATER: I mean, I'm alright but for other people it's good.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: And back in Tully, the headquarters for a massive relief and clean up operation
is stepping up a gear.

The initial shock of the cyclone may be over but the really hard work is only just beginning.

Now, it's early evening here at the Tully Showgrounds but people are still lining up for help at
the recovery centre. They're asking for anything from emotional to financial support, to long term

And this centre is expected to stay open for some months.

(Evacuation centre worker questions people with a clipboard)

PETER MCCUTCHEON: It can be an administrative nightmare trying to work out the entitlements of
tourists and foreign workers caught up in the aftermath of Yasi.

Taiwanese national Julie Tai has lived in Tully for over a year and is becoming frustrated.

JULIE TAI, FOREIGN WORKER: But we pay tax. We pay tax, we're like residents but they say 'We are
not sure you can pass'. So we are worried about it.

OFFICIAL: It must be a confusing time for you.

JULIE TAI: Yeah, yeah, we know that. My house, the roof is gone. Was gone but we stay with my
friend's house.

No power. Yeah, we burn the woods to cook.

FRIEND: Yeah. (Laughs)

JULIE TAI: We need to survive on.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: Also in the queue are James and Rochelle Barrett. They may need some help but
they count themselves lucky.

JAMES BARRETT, TULLY RESIDENT: The veranda is gone. The roof of the lounge room is all gone. Our
lounge room, our kitchen, part of the wall downstairs has blown out.

But we've got nothing done, really, compared to some of the houses in this town.


PETER MCCUTCHEON: Sounds pretty severe to me though.

JAMES BARRETT: Oh, you go for a drive up the streets here, mate, and people have lost absolutely
everything. They've got no house. They've got no clothing.

ROCHELLE BARRETT: We're quite lucky. We're still here.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: At this point, can you ever imagine life returning to normal?

JAMES BARRETT: Yeah, it did in Larry. We'll do it here.

ROCHELLE BARRETT: Eventually, yeah. We'll do again.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: Larry didn't really hit Tully that hard, though?

JAMES BARRETT: No, but it turned (inaudible) at Innisfail and... I mean, I work between Tully and
Innisfail and Innisfail has come through- well, to me it looks like it's come through it quite
well. So I'd say Tully will too in two, three, four years, what it takes.

ROCHELLE BARRETT: We're tough up here. We pick ourselves up.

JAMES BARRETT: North Queensland is used to it, mate.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: People around here may be traumatised, but they're saying it could've been worse.

(Sign reading "Is that all you got, bitch?")

And they're doing their best to lighten the mood.

Julie Jacobs and Sarah McLeod joke about how they got through the night of the cyclone in their

SARAH MCLEOD, TULLY RESIDENT: There were six adults and one child, three dogs, a bird.


JULIE JACOBS, TULLY RESIDENT: The fish if I could have brought them.


PETER MCCUTCHEON: You sound like you're in good spirits.

SARAH MCLEOD: Have to be. What else are you going to do? You know?

JULIE JACOBS: Pulled down all the trees we didn't want any more anyway.


PETER MCCUTCHEON: Remarkably, that sense of stoicism is on display here in Cardwell, which was hit
not only by cyclonic winds but also storm surge.

This debris on the ground didn't come from trees, it came from the ocean.

(Drifts of palms fronds and brown tangled leaves)

It was literally sucked up by the cyclone and dumped inland.

DENA LEO, CARDWELL RESIDENT: Like all Aussies we just get up and keep going. I'm so thankful we
haven't lost any lives.

We've lost all of this, sure, but these things can be replaced. Life you can't replace.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: Dena Leo's brick house is still is standing but was so badly damaged by the
rising ocean she may never be able to live here again.

The sandbags out the front proved to be a futile attempt to hold back nature's fury.

You can see where the storm surge came in.

DENA LEO: Yeah, all the sand and salt water that come in from the surge. I mean, the beach used to
be way down there, you know, and with the surge it's come all the way through up here.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: You've got a beautiful view there.

DENA LEO: I know! (laughs) I used to have a beautiful view.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: But you paid the price for it?

DENA LEO: Paid the price.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: Dena Leo not lost only her house but all the paperwork for her cultural
consultancy business. Like many people along this part of the North Queensland coast she is having
to grin and bear it.

DENA LEO: You see up through here because all the tiles lifted. So this is where the water has come
through, started to fill the ceiling.


DENA LEO: Yeah, so...

PETER MCCUTCHEON: You didn't stay here during the storm?

DENA LEO: No, we were going to stay but then the police came by and said 'Look, guys, you'd best
go, you know?

So... And like I said, we've just lost everything. I used to work from home, had my office in here
and just, lost everything.

Like I said, we can start again. No lives have been lost, and... Just start again.

HEATHER EWART: Peter McCutcheon reporting from Far North Queensland.