'THE NOISE LEVEL ROSE SHARPLY ONCE THE ROOF WENT, AND THUNDER EXPLODED ALL AROUND THEM... THEY COULD HEAR THE SOUND OF DEBRIS AND SWIRLING GLASS COMING FROM THE HALLWAY. THEY WERE TRAPPED IN THEIR OWN REFUGE AND DIDN'T DARE OPEN THE DOOR FOR FEAR OF BEING SHREDDED BY THE CHURNING GLASS.'
On Christmas Day 1974, Australia woke up to the news that Darwin had been devastated by Cyclone Tracy.
Only hours before, the town of Darwin was winding down for the holiday season. Like many people that day Josephine Foreman spent the morning cooking a large turkey for Christmas lunch; Geoff Crane finished off some last-minute Christmas shopping. Reports of an approaching cyclone were taken lightly - after all, the last cyclone was little more than a storm with a bit more wind. Besides, it was Christmas...
At midnight on Christmas Eve, Cyclone Tracy roared in from the Arafura Sea and in six hours wiped out Darwin. It was Australia's worst natural disaster- a night of fear and horror, a storm of unprecedented savagery and destruction. Winds of 300 kilometres per hour totally destroyed nearly all of Darwin's buildings and caused the deaths of more than fifty people. When Christmas Day finally dawned, many counted themselves lucky to still be alive.
Twenty-seven years later, some of those who lived through the cyclone recall their frightening experiences-from the sheer terror of the storm itself, to the heart-wrenching days that followed and the massive clean-up operation and evacuation of more than 20,000 people in six days. This is a compelling account of tragedy, survival and human courage.
Gary McKay was an officer in the Australian Army and spent sixteen weeks in the clean-up operation of Darwin after Cyclone Tracy. In researching this book he interviewed over fifty of the cyclone's survivors-the 'riders of the storm' that wiped out Darwin.
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