March 29, 2017

Done By Cyclone Debbie

Tropical Cyclone Debbie. Anna Johnston -

Who would have thought I’d be “that girl” who could find anything to be grateful for after the last 72 hours, but here I sit on my slightly damp mattress, surrounded by kaos watching the beginning of the dawn unfold as we come to see for the first time the damage caused by Cyclone Debbie. Feeling weirdly decadent, I’m sipping an almost icy cold coffee from a crystal glass that the amazing Queen Suebah had the forethought to freeze into ice blocks before the monster hit.

Tropical Cyclone Debbie. Anna Johnston -

Day 1 – The beginning of destruction is starting to be seen in the lane way beside my home

Living through a Category 4 Cyclone, that was technically just 5 kilometres an hour (wind speed) short of a Category 5, is nothing to laugh at my friends, and I do admit to moments of serious fear throughout,….. LONG and scary moments in fact! While the cyclone raged around us, a sound that can only be described as a couple of 747 jet planes launching from your front door, we sat huddled on the stairwell landing that was “Base Camp” for days with Little Chef, who unbelievably knew his job was to loyally stay with us, offering love and cuddles way more in excess than his fear of storms or need to go pee. He may be my fur baby, but seriously folks, this little man outdid himself and was a tower of strength and courage and right now, I’m a little bit in awe of him.

Tropical Cyclone Debbie. Anna Johnston -

Little Chef the wonder pooch

Tropical Cyclone Debbie. Anna Johnston -

Tropical Cyclone Debbie. Anna Johnston - www.shenannagans.comThey say catastrophe brings out the good, bad and brave in people and at this moment I’m not that sure what good ol’ Cyclone Debbie brought out in me, but, I doubt I’ll ever forget seeing my Momma Bear jump up and bring Little Chef outside to pee in the brief moments while we were in the eye of the cyclone – what an eery and uncomfortable feeling that was.  Or seeing the faces of our incredibly generous neighbours deliver a hot plate of spaghetti and meatballs late last night as Cyclone Debbie roared around us, arriving by lantern light with the noise of the wind making it virtually impossible to communicate, but these wonderful people wanted to ensure that we Southerns were ready for the powerful second punch Cyclone Debbie was about to throw at us. Little did we know that Debbie’s tail would last another gruelling 5 hours or so and where all the damage would be done.

Tropical Cyclone Debbie. Anna Johnston -

Day 1 – Taken during the eye of the storm

Dawn is starting to shine light on the damage and reality is starting to invade my little moment of bliss and gratitude. Who would have thought I’d be simply relishing this moment right now with a cool tropical breeze coming through an open window and the taste of seriously good coffee? There is going to be so much to come to terms with over the next many weeks as we learn the true extent of damage to our little townhouse, how my island home fared and whether or not there is a job to go back to even? Throughout all the ferocity and fear we were all experiencing, word came from my colleagues stuck on Daydream that my little island paradise took a beating, a serious beating. This and more is all still in front of us. But right now, right at this moment I’m so bloody grateful we survived.

Tropical Cyclone Debbie. Anna Johnston -

Day 2 – The aftermath

The breeze I’ve been so enjoying has picked up speed, the radar map shows another storm coming through, and once again the rain is starting to pour. Oh yeah, and that constant banging noise that started happening through the dead of night sometime after our gutter flew off to god knows where, turns out to be our neighbours roof…. and not ours. The carpet, curtains and bedding are all a little bit damp and downstairs there is a bit of flooding. But, for now, thank you ALL for the messages, phone calls, thoughts and prayers that came from all over the world, you will never know just how much you contributed to my sanity.


shenANNAgans is Anna Johnston, a 30 - something Aussie gal with an unwavering passion for the Hospitality industry. I love the quirky and unusual, designing events, travelling far and wide and eating food from all around the world. I am coffee blooded, a craft beer enthusiast, wine drinking yogi who enjoys writing about her adventures.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

mjskitchen - April 4, 2017 Reply

WOW! That’s just downright scary! A couple of years ago we had a freak storm blow through our neighborhood with Cat 4 winds and it was scary as hell. The devastation was similar to what I’m seeing in your pictures. Glad you had your brave sweetie to protect and comfort. What a cutie. 🙂 Hope the rains have subsided by now and cleanup is going well. So glad you’re safe!

Elissa - March 31, 2017 Reply

Woah, crazy. I’m guessing you didn’t expect this to be in the job description before you went to the island! Glad you are safe and hoping you all recover really quickly.

Mabel Kwong - March 30, 2017 Reply

SO glad to hear you are okay, big sis Anna. I was at work yesterday and saw the news on the internet. I thought, “Oh, that’s where Anna is now”. And then I read some more. “Oh…right in the middle of it” 🙁 Little Chef sounds every bit the trooper and I am sure he welcomed the spaghetti and meatballs too. Hope it wasn’t too bad raining today…saw on the news it is still pretty wet :/

Take care and sending lots of hugs and warmth your way. It sounds like everyone over there is so supportive and encouraging, and I know all of you will get through this x

Hotly Spiced - March 30, 2017 Reply

I’m so glad you survived. The clean-up will be long and arduous I’m sure. I’ve never been in a cyclone but have heard they’re very terrifying. Good luck getting everything back in order xx

Alice Lau - March 30, 2017 Reply

Hi Anna, I’m feeling your awe & wonder lovely. This time 1 year ago (Matt & I) were on our honeymoon in Hamilton Island. We spoke of what an incredible near miss it would have been & how things would’ve been so different if we were stranded there (during) a cyclone away from our little guy!

I hope you had some comfort in knowing you had your mamma & little fur baby with you. Hope that the recovery & aide comes soon to all those who need it. Also what amazing neighbours you have too xo

John/Kitchen Riffs - March 30, 2017 Reply

Tropical storms like that are no fun. We lived in Florida for a decade, and I never got used to the hurricanes. Glad you’re safe!

Evelyne CulturEatz - March 29, 2017 Reply

So glad to hear from you but so sorry you, the island and everyone had to survive through this. Hope the coming days will be filled with community love and support.

tania|My kitchen stories - March 29, 2017 Reply

Glad you are ok Anna. I hope that you do still have a job and things pick up quickly for you and that cute little poochy. x

Mandy - March 29, 2017 Reply

I have only endured a category 3 cyclone while living in Mauritius so know somewhat what you speak of hon. Not fun. We did however have a basement specially built for cyclones. Thankfully we never had to use it. Thinking of you sweet Anna. Hoping the weather is clearing now.
Love and hugs to you.
🙂 Mandy xo

Gary Lum - March 29, 2017 Reply

Good to know you’re okay Anna

    Anna - April 7, 2017 Reply

    Thanks Gary! Sure was an experience we won’t be forgetting for a good while yet!

Krista Bjorn - March 29, 2017 Reply

Oh luv, biggest of hugs to you. XOXO I can only imagine how terrifying that was!!! So, so, so glad you’re safe. XO

    Anna - April 7, 2017 Reply

    Those hugs would be very, very, very welcome Krista, we have mostly recovered, although hearing the wind, even just a gentle wind does send a send a shiver down the spine. Thanks for your love and support my dear friend, we sure felt it. Love and hugs back at you.xox

Serina Huang - March 29, 2017 Reply

So glad to know you are safe. How scary!

    Anna - April 7, 2017 Reply

    Thanks for your love and support throughout Serina, we are ever so grateful. 🙂

Hannah - March 29, 2017 Reply

Thank you for sharing this Anna. Reading your story gave me shivers.
I hope everything with the island works out.
Continuing to think of you. xoxo

    Anna - March 29, 2017 Reply

    When I was reading the post to check for typos, I was crying thinking about everything we had just been through, so I feel you with the shivers. Thanks for being there with me at 3am on Tuesday morning, it was so appreciated. Hugging your face friend.

kris - March 29, 2017 Reply

So glad that you are okay. A scary introduction to living in the tropics hey! Wonderful that you had the support of your neighbors through it. Fingers crossed Daydream island is okay!

    Anna - March 29, 2017 Reply

    It was terrifying, those hours we were sat in the stairwell as the house shook around us… never ever wanna do that again. We were so incredibly blessed to have the support of our neighbours, even more grateful this morning when a hot sweet cuppa coffee arrived too. Still waiting to hear the full extent of damage to Daydream, and whether I have a job.

Elias Hallaj - March 29, 2017 Reply

Glad to hear you survived and learned from the experience. Mother nature can be awesome and frightening at the same time! Please continue to take care my friend.

    Anna - March 29, 2017 Reply

    Mother Nature was brutal indeed, and it was an experience I’m sure I could have lived without, but finding I am a part of a community that cares was/is incredible. Care will continue to be taken.

Liz (Good Things) - March 29, 2017 Reply

Sheez! That was a biggie. Glad to know you are safe and well. I guess even paradise has a dark side! My brother and his family lived through Cyclone Tracey in Darwin, 1974. Mother Nature at her most furious. Take care xx

    Anna - March 29, 2017 Reply

    Yeah, it really was. Big and bloody scary. But we are safe and well and that’s what really matters. Thanks for your thoughts lovely, care is being taken.

Leave a Reply: