1st January 1975 Cyclone Tracey Devastated Darwin

I have never been so scared in my life. At 10 pm Christmas Eve Cyclone Tracey totally destroyed Darwin. We were evacuated to my Grannies in Sydney after a horrific night spent under the house in the basement. I’m  finding it hard and upsetting to write this so I’ll just post what I read in the papers.

Tracy killed 71 people, 49 on land and 22 at sea, caused $837 million in damage and destroyed more than 70 percent of Darwin’s buildings, including 80 per cent of houses. Tracy left more than 41,000 out of the 47,000 inhabitants of the city homeless and required the evacuation of over 30,000 people. Most of Darwin’s population was evacuated to Adelaide, Whyalla, Alice Springs and Sydney, and many never returned to the city.

On Christmas Day, the Darwin Hospital treated well over five hundred patients, with 112 of these being admitted into the hospital, and both of the facility’s operating theatres being utilized. The first casualties did not arrive till 7 a.m. because of high winds and severe road conditions in and around the Darwin area.

Approximately 30,000 people were homeless, and were forced to seek shelter in several makeshift housing and emergency centres that lacked proper hygienic conditions. Volunteers came in from across the country to assist with the emergency relief efforts. Trench latrines were dug; water supplies delivered by tankers, and mass immunisation programs begun. The army was given the task of searching houses for the dead bodies of people and animals, as well as locating other health risks; for example, cleaning out rotting contents from fridges and freezers across the city. This was completed within a week. Houses which had been ‘searched and cleared’ had S&C painted on an external wall. The city itself was sprayed with malathion, in order to control mosquitoes and other similar pests.

By 31 December, only 10,638 people (mostly men who were required to help clean up the city) remained in Darwin.

I’m so glad we are safe. We are going to stay with Grannie until our house is rebuilt. Dad has gone back to help with my uncles.

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