Cyclone Damien has now been downgraded and emergency crews are set to begin assessing the damages in Western Australia’a Pilbara region. Greek Australian family Sotiris, Sofia and their four kids, aged eight months to eight years, were in Karratha when the cyclone hit.
It has been a rather unusual weekend for the family who took shelter in their house as the cyclone was crossing overhead, showing its strength in WA’s Pilbara region.
According to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) Damien was the strongest cyclone to make landfall in the region since 2013 with wind gusts of up to 205 kph and more than 236 mm of rainfall within two days.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services has received more than 100 calls for assistance, trees are down everywhere across the city, some buildings have lost their roofs, a number of homes remain without power but luckily the Greek couple’s home has only minor damages.
“We knew the cyclone was coming at least a week in advance, however this is nature and you are always vigilant and prepared for the worst case scenario,” says Sotiris, who has lived in the area with his family for the last two years.
A red alert was issued for Karratha on Friday and the system intensified on Saturday.
“The gusts were really strong on Saturday afternoon. We could hear the howling of the wind but we couldn’t see anything due to the heavy rainfall. At some point the wind was so strong that I could feel the glass in the windows bend,” Sofia said.
“We gathered the kids and stayed away. I got really scared at this point. I prepared a suitcase with clothes, the kids passports and food just in case we had to evacuate.”
The family’s home and surrounding houses suffered power loss for about 10 hours, from Saturday afternoon until early hours on Sunday.
“The community and the Emergency Services have been amazing. We had updates every hour with regards to the cyclone’s intensity and we knew where the closest shelter was,” they said.
“Everyone was and is prepared and ready to help each other. It’s great to see the community spirit in action. We are not familiar with such phenomena but it’s a relief to know we are in a place where one feels cared for.”