Marcia disrupts seniors’ trip
A RELAXING holiday for 12 Gympie National Seniors took an unexpected turn when they were woken at 4am last Friday and taken from their motel to an evacuation centre, where they sat out Cyclone Marcia.
The Gympie group left for Rockhampton on Sunday, February 15, looking forward to several days of sightseeing and camaraderie in the area. They boarded a tilt train in Gympie and arrived at Bayview Tower Resort, Rockhampton, in time for dinner.
A bus tour the following morning was first on their extensive agenda, travelling the coast line from Yeppoon to Emu Park. Lunch was a barbecue lunch and guided walk through the Stoney Creek Rainforest.
The seniors went to Great Keppel Island on Tuesday, enjoying a lunch time cruise and hoping to look at the coral via a glass bottom boat. The weather was too rough for the latter, but the lunch and entertainment made up for it.
A Water Park Eco tour at Byfield National Park was Wednesday's treat, where the seniors saw butterflies, water dragons and turtles in the creek amongst the dark tea trees.
Lake Mary and Mt Hedlow were first up on Thursday, and then it was off to the Footlights Theatre for a comedy show.
Back at Bayview Towers that afternoon, they were told Tropical Cyclone Marcia was bearing down on the area and it would be over Yeppoon by 9am the next day.
The seniors were to leave at 5.30am Friday, but Thursday afternoon were told no trains or train buses were leaving Rockhampton, so in the meantime, they would have to stay put.
After the early morning call on Friday, the seniors were told to collect any medications and be ready for evacuation, and also told Marcia would be a Category 4 cyclone by 8am.
They joined 800 others at the evacuation centre - with little or no food and if they had a cup, they could make tea or coffee.
The seniors sat there for 12 hours, listening to the wind roaring and the rain pelting on the roof.
At 4.30pm the doors were opened and everyone was allowed to leave. The electricity had been off since 11am and it was still raining heavily as they were driven back to the Bayview Towers.
No one could believe their eyes when they saw the devastation of trees uprooted, lines down, houses unroofed and the once beautiful gardens destroyed.
When they returned to Bayview Towers they were amazed to hear of how the manager, Vikki, and staff member, Faye, were stuck in a the pitch dark lift for 45 minutes and had to have the door prised open with a jack, leaving just enough space for them to crawl out.
Even though they had wet carpets, no electricity, and had little sleep, the staff was still smiling and still concerned for the seniors' safety.
They fed them sandwiches and a dessert before helping them walk up the outdoor stairs to their rooms. With no electricity and mobile phones out of power and nowhere to recharge them, all the seniors could do was go to bed.
Staff cooked breakfast on a barbecue the next day, after which the group headed back to Gympie on a bus because trains weren't running. The devastation around Rockhampton was heart wrenching to look at.
Lunch was at Childers and they arrived home about 5.30pm just in time for those who lived on the Southside to get home before the Normanby Bridge was covered by floodwater.
The trip was an adventure and all were thankful to the Bayview manager and staff for their kindness and care, making the seniors' safety paramount.
Everyone would happily repeat the trip - but not in the cyclone season.