A Frail Farewell – the Cyclone Yasi experiences of Cardwell’s old folk

Guest blogger: Cardwell & District Historical Society

In keeping with its pledge made last year to repay the trust placed in it by being the recipient of the 2012 John Oxley Library Community History Award, the Cardwell and District Historical Society has produced a new book.

Cover: A Frail Farewell: The Cyclone Yasi Experiences of Cardwell’s old folk by Dr Jacqui Murray. Image courtesy Cardwell & District Historical Society

A Frail Farewell: The Cyclone Yasi Experiences of Cardwell’s old folk by Dr Jacqui Murray.

A Frail Farewell: The Cyclone Yasi Experiences of Cardwell’s old folk by Dr Jacqui Murray tells the story of more than 60 elderly people. In particular it tells of the sufferings of local nursing home residents. Unlike those evacuated earlier from Cairns, Cardwell’s frail aged were forced, in the hours before Cyclone Yasi struck, onto unsuitable transport for a long, traumatic and very uncomfortable journey to a Townsville hall where no preparations had been made for their arrival.

As a result, the hall became overcrowded with even the high care bed bound frail aged forced onto uncomfortable mattresses tightly packed in rows on the floor – making nursing and proper patient care extremely challenging. The results were both physically and mentally very distressing for both the old folk and their carers.

Author Dr Jacqui Murray, John Andersen, Regional Editor of the Townsville Bulletin who performed the official launch, and Anne Mealing, Cardwell & District Historical Society president. Image courtesy Cardwell & District Historical Society

Author Dr Jacqui Murray, John Andersen, Regional Editor of the Townsville Bulletin who performed the official launch, and Anne Mealing, Cardwell & District Historical Society president

Meanwhile, in Cardwell, other old folk were quite literally forgotten. As a result one, aged 85, spent the night utterly alone and trapped outdoors in the scant shelter of a porch in the full fury of one of Australia’s worst cyclones. He barely survived.

Author Dr Jacqui Murray signing a copy of the book for Laraine McLaughlin. Image courtesy Cardwell & District Historical Society

Author Dr Jacqui Murray signing a copy of the book for Laraine McLaughlin

What this particular book hopes to achieve is to not only serve as a historical record but also to act as a cautionary tale for a society facing major challenges as it is forced to deal with a large population of ageing people taking to the road, making sea and tree changes, as never before.

[Images courtesy of the Cardwell & District Historical Society]