SES members Darrin Swadling and Cheryl Baartz.
SES members Darrin Swadling and Cheryl Baartz.

Rocky SES volunteers remember ‘devastating’ Cyclone Yasi

In early 2011, tropical cyclone Yasi made its way towards Mission Beach on the Queensland coast.

February 3 this year marks the 10th anniversary of the destruction Yasi wreaked across the state's north.

Rockhampton SES members Cheryl Baartz and Darrin Swadling were sent to help affected residents in Townsville and elsewhere.

At the time, Ms Baartz had been involved with the SES for five years.

"For Cyclone Yasi, there was a lot of pre-planning happening right across the state, and I actually put my hand up to be part of one of the deployment teams that went north," she said.

"We worked at the Reid Park Pit centre. I was up there for a five-day deployment and led a chainsaw team based in Townsville.

"There were many, many requests for assistance, and there were many, many volunteers - not only local volunteers, but across the state that actually headed north to support the community."

Ms Baartz said Yasi was the most devastating emergency she had responded to since the

start of her volunteering.

"I've been in SES now for about 14 years, so we've seen some other events that have been quite significant, but certainly Cyclone Yasi was a massive event.

"It was a distressing time for a lot of people in the area. There was a lot of damage throughout not just the Townsville community, but the broader community as well.

"It takes a disaster sometimes for communities to come together. That was really heartening to see neighbour helping neighbour and community just pitching in."

Mr Swadling was on three deployments related to Yasi, mostly using a chainsaw to clear fallen trees and tarping damaged roofs.

He has volunteered at the Rockhampton SES for 11 years.

"Yasi was the most significant where there's a lot of damage and a lot of people that were removed from their accommodation," Mr Swadling said.

"I run a business here and I take from the community, so it's my way of giving back to the community - where I can go out and help people that can't help themselves.

"They are very appreciative. Sometimes they get a little bit frustrated, but overall people are pretty happy to see us turn up on their doorstep and give them a hand."



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