Cyclone Debbie: Business powers up in storm's aftermath
AS CALLOUS as it sounds, cyclones are good for business.
Category 5 cyclones Larry and Yasi provided a massive stimulus to the economies of towns stretching from Babinda to Ingham.
First responders, media, insurance assessors and tradies all contributed to the economic recovery of towns torn apart by cyclones. And now it is happening in Bowen and the greater Whitsunday coast.
The influx of workers on generous living expenses is even helping in getting employees who have had hours cut back to fulltime work.
Jayne O'Regan from Bowen's Jochheim's Pies said Cyclone Debbie had left people with damaged homes now waiting to be repaired. But hundreds of people came in to lend a hand and businesses were experiencing a welcome upswing.
"With the downturn over recent years, many employees in a lot of businesses have had their working hours reduced or were at risk of losing their jobs. Now they are back to working more hours and in some cases back to fulltime," she said.
Ms O'Regan was busy serving maritime recovery experts from the Sunshine Coast at the bakery and cafe she runs with husband Paddy.
They are typical of just about all of the people who are in places like Bowen and Cannonvale to do jobs such as assess damage, help those affected financially and repair damaged homes and infrastructure.
They have to have somewhere to sleep. They need somewhere to eat, buy fuel and groceries, have coffee, bacon and eggs and to have a coldie after a day out in the 38C heat.
"All of this helps people whose working hours have been cut or who were on the border line of losing their jobs, get back into fulltime work," Ms O'Regan said.
"The cyclone was hard on a lot of people, but the people who have come here to help are spending a lot of money."
Mr O'Regan said the community spirit was uplifting. He said it was heartening to see the way people in Bowen were helping each other.
"One of our customers is a schoolteacher who lost her roof in the cyclone.
She was in the shop the other day and was talking about all of the offers of help and support she had received from local people.
She said, 'I'll never be able to leave Bowen now. This is such a great community'," he said.
Alex Sinclair at Le Sorelle Coffee House and Florist said Bowen had suffered but with so many workers in town, businesses were doing well.
Ms Sinclair said the cafe side of her business was doing well but added that the florist component was suffering because of the damage to the Whitsunday's tourist islands.
She said weddings, particularly on Hayman Island, played a vital role in their business. Ms Sinclair said it would take time for the islands to get back into full swing.
"It's been wonderful having so many emergency services people in town. Some businesses have been going backwards over the last couple of years, but now there's hope with all these people in town, they can start going forward again," she said.
Ms Sinclair said had noticed a change in coffee drinking habits.
"There are people here from the capital cities and they are used to drinking coffee every day. A lot come back for a second," she said.
Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Wilcox said the net result across the shire, from Bowen down to the Proserpine, Cannonvale and Airlie Beach was the same.
"It was a severe cyclone that frightened a lot of people and caused a lot of damage, but it proves that every cloud has a silver lining," he said.
"Rural and regional communities here had been doing it tough, but now in the wake of all of this our building industry is back on track.
"Accommodation is filling up and all of these people who are helping out here need some where to stay and somewhere to eat.
"They need supplies right down to the clothes they wear and boots. There is going to be a lot of work out there for a long time yet."