CAIRNS mother Charlene Mitchell was careful to hide her fear from her two daughters as the family prepared for terrifying Cyclone Yasi to hit the north Queensland coast last night.

“I’m actually getting quite scared myself,” the former Ipswich resident said yesterday afternoon.

“The hardest thing is the unknown.

“We’ve been through Cyclone Larry – that was mild compared with this one.

“When we built the new home, we designed a separate room within a room that’s like a strong room.

“We’ve got that all ready and waiting.

“The girls have got their books and favourite toys with them.

“I just want to make sure the kids are safe.

“When you’ve got such devastating winds, it’s really really scary.”

Packing winds of almost 300km/h, category five Yasi was on track to make landfall between Innisfail and Cardwell around 10pm last night.

Mrs Mitchell remembers the horrific noise generated by Cyclone Larry in 2006.

“It was like being next to an aircraft for an extended period of time,” she said.

“We had sheets of iron flying around. The garage doors flew off.”

Residents in super storm Yasi’s path have been warned to be as self-sufficient as possible.

Emergency services personnel will not risk their lives and venture out while the cyclone is raging.

Mrs Mitchell did consider getting her family out of Cairns on Tuesday.

“It was way too late,” she said. “You couldn’t get on a flight.

“We’ll just ride it out. We’ve had pretty big gusts of wind.

“Friends three minutes’ drive from us have been evacuated.

“It’s going to be a bad couple of hours. You know you’re going to lose power.

“Hopefully the house will stand up.”

A mattress has been stored in the bunker room, to cover the family in case the roof lifts off the house.

A feeling of “frightened anticipation” is how pub owner Marie Giess described the mood yesterday in Calen, just west of Mackay.

“This is the third cyclone for us now,” she said.

“I think people have been very sensible up here and they’re taking preparations seriously.

“The pub has been pretty busy with people buying up their stocks and some of them have even had pre-cyclone parties.

“We have a plan in place for if the worst happens but, of course, there is no way to anticipate something you can’t even begin to imagine – given the size of this storm.

“We have made the pub available to anyone who feels they can’t sit it out at home.

“The hotel is fully taped and things tied down where we can.

“Other than that, there’s nothing else we can do but hope that everyone comes out of it safely.

“We know we can survive a category three, but this is something else again.

“The safety and emotional wellbeing of the kids is our prime concern.”

The Bureau of Meteorology warned that Yasi posed an extremely serious threat to life and property between Cairns and Townsville.



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