Warsop’s Al is a cyclone survivor

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A WARSOP man narrowly escaped the full force of a cyclone as it tore through north-eastern Australia last week.

Al Nuttall survived Cyclone Yasi by barricading himself in a Cairns flat with five friends and riding out the storm.

The next morning the diving instructor was able to call his mum Eileen back in Warsop and deliver the news she’d be praying for.

Eileen said: “We were terrified at first but relieved to speak to him the next day.

“We were apprehensive as to what the aftermath would be. It’s been very worrying.”

Diving instructor Al (36) described how the mood changed in Cairns as the storm approached.

“The place was going crazy on Tuesday,” he said.

“The supermarkets were sold out of bottled water, tinned food, bread, candles, batteries, gas bottles, tape.

“This is when the seriousness of the situation started to kick in for me.”

Al, who grew up in Warsop but emigrated four years ago, gathered his friends and workmates in his flat, avoiding evacuation centres.

He said: “We prepared the house, filling up buckets and dustbins with water, taping up the windows and putting barricades against them in case of imploding glass. We had mattresses everywhere.

“Then it got upgraded to a category five and we were watching videos on YouTube of (Hurricane) Katrina which was a category five. People started to get very worried.”

Later the power was cut, leaving the group relying on the radio and text messages.

“These were the worst hours, just waiting and hoping the cyclone changes path,” Al said. “It seemed calm but the news was saying this was the biggest one ever and would wipe out everything in its path - pretty frightening.”

Strong winds battered the city but were not as bad as feared, leaving Al and his friends to deal with torrential rain and damage.

However, other areas faced 180mph winds, devastating the areas of Tully, Mission Beach and Cardwell.

“The one positive thing we have taken from this is we are now aware of how to prepare if this happens in the future,” Al added.

“Seeing as three more are predicted this season that knowledge might be handy.”