Blog

Cyclone Ita: Part 3 - The cleanup begins

By: Dr Anne Hoggett, Category: Science, Date: 15 Apr 2014

A blog series about our Lizard Island Research Station's recovery from the cyclone that hit it on Friday 11 April, 2014.

Lizard Island Research Station 8

 © Australian Museum

Tuesday 15 April, Cairns.

The LIRS team arrived at Lizard Island at about 2 pm yesterday. The 4WD track between the airstrip and LIRS was impassable even on foot due to fallen trees so they walked and waded around the lagoon to get there.

They were delighted to report by satellite phone that the aerial photos from earlier in the week had not misled us. The power was still on so the aquarium had continued to pump seawater and food in the fridges and freezers was fine. There cannot have been much of a storm surge – the beach in front of LIRS has suffered no more than it does in northwesterly storms every year.

Phone and internet are down as the cyclone also passed over Cape Flattery (where the mobile tower for internet is located) and Cooktown (through which our radio phone calls are routed).

The team is working today on access – clearing fallen trees from the track and around buildings. Lyle estimates it will take at least two days to make the track passable.
All external surfaces are covered in shredded vegetation that looks and behaves like sprayed-on grass clippings mixed with glue. That will be a big cleanup job later.

From shore, the sea and reefs look much the same as usual. I don’t know when the team will get into the water to have a proper look, but I suspect they won’t be able to hold off for long.
Unfortunately, we must reschedule all visits that were planned for April and May. For those affected, if I haven’t contacted you yet, I will soon.

Thanks again to everyone for extraordinary level of support and offers of help that have been coming in. LIRS has weathered the storm and will be back to business as usual as soon as possible!