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Cyclone Preparation – Mistakes We Made!

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At the end of 2023 we went through Cyclone Jasper and the subsequent torrential rain as he became Tropical Storm Jasper. Now, in January 2024, there is another Tropical Cyclone out there, Cyclone Kirrily is still being called a Severe Tropical Storm, but it is looking like it will become a cyclone, and hit the Queensland coast near Townsville, on the 25th of January or thereabouts. Of course, nobody ever knows where, when, or how a cyclone will hit the coast. I wanted to share the mistakes we made in preparing for a tropical cyclone as we went through Jasper. It may help somebody!

I’ll also include a few photos from the last cyclone. With months of wet season still ahead of us, the time to start cyclone preparation is now, not when you see the latest cyclone warning.

Tropical cyclone flooding QLD
In the last tropical cyclone, flooding and landslides closed every road! We were stuck completely for a while.

We live in a remote rural area near Port Douglas and Cairns, we experienced 8 days of no power, phone, or internet after Jasper. We had flooding and road closures that made getting to the shops impossible. Here are some things we learned about cyclone preparedness.

A cyclone is the same as a typhoon or hurricane, but in the southern hemisphere, these storms are called cyclones. You can track Cyclone Kirrily on the BOM cyclone tracking site, here. Cyclones are just one of the joys of living in the tropics, but thankfully, they’re rare.

Cyclone Preparation

tropical cyclone prep
The local pub had an internet signal but was cash only.

I’m not here to cover the basics of a cyclone preparation kit, local governments cover all of that. (Qld govt cyclone preparedness site here) I’m just going to give you a few ideas on things that were useful to have during and after the cyclone, and a few things we found unnecessary.

Preparation For a Cyclone

Know Your Neighbours

Get to know your neighbours and look out for each other. We have a very elderly neighbour and she needed our help. Get to know everyone and help each other.

Have a Generator

We have a generator because the power supply in some rural parts of Australia is not very reliable. Know how to use it, practice!

If you don’t have one, get one ASAP, because they sell out fast when a cyclone is coming. You need a special socket to attach a generator to your home circuit. Some Australian homes have this, others don’t.

Have Enough Fuel

We did not have enough fuel to run our generator for 2 days, let alone 8 days.

The local petrol station was only open for an hour or so intermittently (because they also needed to run a generator) and we didn’t have enough fuel cans. Because we had no signal we didn’t know when that opening period was.

Buy extra fuel cans, store extra fuel. Safely, of course.

Have Cash

The petrol station and the pub (the only two places where we could buy anything because of power outages and closed roads) were both cash-only during the cyclone period.

Know Where All Your Emergency Gear Is

I found my battery-operated lantern after the power had come back on.

Find all of your emergency cyclone gear in advance and have it somewhere easy to access. Have a torch of some kind next to your bed because the power is very likely to be out at night.

Head torches are extremely useful. This sort, without anything bulky at the back of your head, will make it easier to read in bed.

We didn’t get much use out of candles, but have some, in case. And an umbrella, a big one.

Have a Radio

We thought we’d somehow be able to turn our mobile phones into radios with an app of some sort. We found we couldn’t.

The only way we could get updates during those 8 days was from our elderly neighbour, and of course, she was more prepared than us, she had an old-school radio for weather, news, and emergency broadcasts.

She’s been through loads of cyclones!

My cyclone preparation did involve ordering a battery and wind-up radio from Amazon, but weeks later, it still hasn’t arrived. Star preparing early!

Our local pub has Starlink. They had an internet signal throughout the cyclone period. They were very busy! We’ll be switching to Starlink ASAP.

Get Your Laundry Done Before The Cyclone Gets Near

You will probably go through a lot of towels, particularly if, like us, you have a large dog who needs to go outside through torrential cyclonic rain. You will need towels.

During a brief period of opportunity I was able to get to a shop, the shop assistant told me everyone was buying extra towels, as was I.

With only a generator for power and no way of refilling our water tank, we couldn’t use our washing machine for 8 days. We avoided showers or showered in the rain.

So empty your laundry bin and get everything dry and put away before the cyclone arrives.

Have Good Mops

Our deck and patio were flooded by cyclonic rain blowing sideways in sheets. Our almost-worn-out mop wasn’t good enough and the supermarket had sold out.

The Hardwear store was flooded and closed. Of course, most of the time we couldn’t get to the shops at all. So get a good mop or two. This sort is great.

Our house is on stilts, so thankfully, no flooding, but the roof did leak.

Have Enough Food For Your Animals

Do you have enough food for your animals for 8 days right now? We didn’t.

Roads were closed, supplies couldn’t get through and some shops were flooded. We could not get animal food.

Also, make sure you have an ample supply of dry bedding in a place that won’t get soaked by sheets of rain blowing sideways. We didn’t.

We have dogs, cats, a horse, poultry, sheep and goats. We got through, but we should have been better prepared.

We put several days of work into getting the animals safely housed for the storm. Most of the chicken coops were fine undercover, but our main coop flooded. We’ll be ready for that next time.

Check Your Drainage

Observe how water flows over your land and make sure no drainage ditches are blocked. One of ours was blocked by fallen branches so that the water flow was diverted directly through my vegetable garden.

It could have been worse, but would have been a simple fix if we’d checked the drainage ditches.

Fill a Bucket or Three For Flushing

Flushing uses a lot of water, and if, like us, you have just a water tank which you can’t fill when the power goes off, you’ll be glad you did.

The water in Port Douglas went off completely for days. It’s off again today. Always have water. Remember that the shops will sell out fast!

Canned Food and Emergency Rations Weren’t Useful

food shortages during cyclone
The supermarkets had food supply issues during the cyclone period. Coles, the IGA, and Woolworths all had bare shelves on certain days.

We could cook throughout the storm, our stove is gas, and the generator could power the fridge, so we didn’t need cans of emergency rations, we cooked as normal.

I didn’t panic buy, but there were a lot of people at the supermarket just before the storm.

We did have a very good stock of supplies. Living up a mountain 45 mins from the shops, you do build a bit of a prepper pantry, including plenty of yeast and flour. There was no bread in the shops.

Maybe we should all learn a few things from the preppers!

Have Games, Puzzles, Books, Anything Non-Electronic!

We only ever play Bananagrams in power outages. The last time we played Monopoly was over 10 years ago. There are jigsaw puzzles that never saw the light of day. They all saw significant action during the last tropical cyclone. Buy Bananagrams, it’s great!

Have Something To Kill Mosquitos and Bugs

Rain brings mosquitos, we have recently invested in lanterns that attract and zap mosquitoes, we bought several, for the stables, deck and house. They work really well! I wish we’d bought these years ago. Take a look here.

The mosquito zapper above is mains operated, our generator can power small items, it just doesn’t like air conditioners or the kettle. If you don’t have a generator look for rechargeable or battery-powered versions, they also work (we have one) but they’re nowhere near as powerful.

Have a Good Supply of Cleaning Vinegar

Because we had no power for 8 days, we had the windows open. For the first time we had black mold starting to form on the ceiling. Cleaning vinegar kills the spores, so I’ve read. If you plan on using paper towels, have plenty of those too.

I hope our cyclone preparation tips are useful, we had some good ideas and bad ones in the days before the cyclone arrived. Good luck! Any questions, or suggestions, stick them in the comments.

If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!

We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of the more tricky adventure or extended travel insurance.

Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!

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