Glen McLay lived on a house boat moored off Repair Island at Shute Harbour and has lost everything.
Glen McLay lived on a house boat moored off Repair Island at Shute Harbour and has lost everything. Peter Carruthers

Shute Harbour a war zone after Cyclone Debbie

IF THERE is such thing as ground zero for Cyclone Debbie, Shute Harbour would with out a doubt claim the grim accolade in the wake of the severe weather event.

Approaching the popular launch pad to the Whitsunday islands one is struck by a landscape similar to that of Vietnam War footage filmed after Agent Orange attacks.

The trees are void of leaves and masts can be seen popping through the tops of mangroves while more boats lie broken and listless against the rock wall supporting Shute Harbour Rd.

The Shute Harbour Motel is destroyed.

The owners attempted to use chains to keep the structure pinned down but it amounted to naught in the face of 230km/h winds.

 

Cyclone Debbie: the aftermath, Wednesday March 29.
Cyclone Debbie: the aftermath, Wednesday March 29. Peter Carruthers

A boat pushed ashore near the Whitsunday Rent A Yacht jetty has a message to would be looters.

"Not abandoned. Keep off," the painted letters read.

The old ferry terminals bore the brunt of the storm.

The jetties have broken up and boats lie at the bottom of the harbour - the only evidence of their existence being masts breaching the surface of the water.

Nonetheless from the carnage and loss come stories of good fortune or perhaps divine intervention.

 

Cyclone Debbie: the aftermath, Wednesday March 29.
Cyclone Debbie: the aftermath, Wednesday March 29. Peter Carruthers

Jessica Fricker owns a 36ft yacht called Lamorna which was not even secured to a mooring and relied on two anchors and 130 meters of chain to secure it against the storm.

"We just put out a second anchor and prayed to god," she said

"We salvaged her from here and about three weeks ago we put in a new motor and then this happened."

Lamorna survived in tact.

"There is a lot of people we know that have lost their boats... we are very lucky," Ms Fricker said.

However others were not so lucky.

Glen McLay lived on a houseboat moored off Repair Island at Shute Harbour.

 

Cyclone Debbie: the aftermath, Wednesday March 29.
Cyclone Debbie: the aftermath, Wednesday March 29. Peter Carruthers

He arrived back at his tender this morning (Wednesday) to discover the boat was not there.

Everything he owned was on board.

"I got a couple of ropes and that bag up there," he said.

"It was my home. It might not be as big as some other boats but it was worth the same to me."

Despite his loss Mr McLay could see a silver lining.

"There are other people worse off than me," he said.

 



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