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Cobram family caught in Cyclone Debbie devastation

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March 31, 2017

Strong winds lash Bowen on Tuesday afternoon during Cyclone Debbie. Picture: AAP Image/Sarah Motherwell.

Cyclone Debbie hit the Far North Queensland coastal town of Bowen last week with winds howling ‘‘like a jet was taking off right outside our door,’’ former Cobram man Ryan Dopper said. 

Mr Dopper, wife Bec and children moved to Bowen about a year ago after he took over the Queens Beach Hotel.

Last week, they were preparing to withstand their first cyclone. 

Cyclone Debbie intensified to a Category 4 system and battered Hamilton Island before making landfall just south of Bowen early Tuesday afternoon.

Photos emerging online afterwards from Bowen showed planes flipped on the airfield, roads flooded and debris strewn across streets, but the town remained largely intact after Debbie passed through.

The family took shelter at the hotel, along with 30 others, after being evacuated from their home. 

Waiting out the cyclone was like nothing he could ever had expected, Mr Dopper said. 

‘‘It sort of just went round the block and went on and on for about 24 hours," he said. 

‘‘It was so noisy. It was like a jet plane taking off on a runway right outside the door.

‘‘It was quite a frightening experience, we’ve never experienced anything quite like this before."

Mr Dopper said since the storm had passed, locals had begun the slow rebuild process.

About 400mm of rain was dumped on the town during and after the cyclone, with winds reaching up to 150km/h.

‘‘We’ve just ripped the carpets up in the hotel, we’ve still got no power or water connected,’’ he said on Thursday afternoon.

‘‘It’s been crazy, I’ve probably had about 10 hours sleep in five days.’’

For the full story, see the April 5 edition of the Courier.

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