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Yasi won't chase us out: residents

Groper Creek resident of 37 years Roger Wilkie (front) is keeping informed of Cyclone Yasi's track via the wireless and TV, pictured here with other Groper Creek residents who have decided not to evacuate and wait out the storm in their homes.
Groper Creek resident of 37 years Roger Wilkie (front) is keeping informed of Cyclone Yasi's track via the wireless and TV, pictured here with other Groper Creek residents who have decided not to evacuate and wait out the storm in their homes. Casandra Garvey

IMAGINE being out at sea, your motor on your boat has broken down and a massive cyclone strikes.
This wasn't a bad dream for Groper Creek resident Roger Wilkie - this was what happened to him when Cyclone Aivu struck in 1989.


"Me and another bloke - Robert Stockdale - had our trawlers anchored and we took off to make sure they were secured," Mr Wilkie recalled.

"Then the outboard (motor) broke down and the sheer waves due to the cyclone washed us into the mangroves.


"The waves were two metres apart from one another - we were stuck there for five hours."

Even after this harrowing cyclonic experience, the resident of 37 years is not evacuating his Groper Creek home - yet, anyway.

"I've been through heaps of cyclones - not sure how many, you don't count 'em after a while," Mr Wilkie said.

"But we intend on staying in the house - we just don't know what to do, our window of opportunity is getting narrower and narrower but we have a few hours to make up our minds."

Mr Wilkie is one of 18 Groper Creek residents who are intent on staying in their homes, despite the threat being so close to the water.

"We don't feel threatened by the (four-metre) tidal surge as our houses were built to withstand the floods," he said.

"(Cyclone) Aivu had a three-metre surge and it put one metre of water under the house."

All houses at the flood-prone Groper Creek are built high, with 50 permanent residents calling it home.

"The council rang everyone here and said the evacuations weren't mandatory but that could all possibly change," Mr Wilkie said.

"We're keeping informed through the wireless and the TV.

"We can't visualise just how big this system is - what I can say is that it's really scary."

The remaining residents spent the morning helping to secure the homes of residents who had evacuated or were already out of town.

One of the biggest threats to them is not losing possessions in the storm, but from people taking advantage of empty homes in a natural disaster.

Already Farry's IGA in Home Hill has been a victim of looting - unconfirmed reports is that burglars drilled a hole into the roof last night and escaped with the safe.

"One of the main reasons we're staying here is we have no protection (from looters) - in today's society that's what happens," Mr Wilkie said.


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