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Top End Doctor - 15. Dr Chapter 15

I told Toby what Uncle James had said, and we retrieved the heavy steel bars and carried them out to the balcony and closed the one double window, from the kitchen, and closed and locked the two doors to the verandah, before doing the same to the balcony, which has three windows.

Once we had secured the living area windows, we wondered about our rooms, so we headed upstairs. I was a little uncertain what to do with securing the windows, until a click noise sounded and the storm shutters automatically closed and locked. “I found a button in the hallway, which is labelled Storm Shutters, so I pressed it,” Toby explained smiling.

“Well done bro, now let’s do the same with the guest level, then over to our uncle’s area to do the same. Once we had the whole house secured, we sat down in the lounge to watch a movie. When everyone returned about an hour later, they were all drenched from the heavy rain.

“Boys can you please show Declan, the safe room below you, while I show Angela and Tracy the guest room, and Tim will show Lance and Dean the other safe room,” Uncle James said to us, as he dashed to the linen cupboard to retrieve spare towels for everyone.

Once everyone was dry and changed, Tracy got to work to start preparing some lunch, while we continued to watch the movie. When we sat down for lunch, Angela informed us that the cyclone was slowing in intensity, but is still dangerous, and it looks like it will cross the coast to go out to sea again, sometime tomorrow morning, near the mouth of the Daly River, which is just 70 kilometres due south of us.

She mentioned that the small towns of Jabiru and Pine Creek, plus some aboriginal communities and pastoral stations, have been hit hard by the cyclone, damaging a lot of homes, sheds and injuring a lot of people, luckily no one has been killed.

It was decided that for safety reasons, the yacht crew would stay in the house overnight, and until the cyclone has passed, and because it is so wet outside, all we could do was sit inside and watch movies or sit on the back patio or front verandah and chat.

It continued to rain all afternoon and evening, so soon after dinner, Toby and I retreated to our bedrooms for our first nights sleep in the new house. I woke a couple of times during the night, with the sound of the wind howling and the heavy rain outside, and unaware that early in the evening, two light aircraft had landed on the muddy airstrip on the edge of the community, and evacuated a total of 36 people to the safety of Darwin.

When I woke in the morning, I had a quick shower, and it was while I was dressing, that I realised that the rain was now soft, and there was no howling wind at all. Heading downstairs, all of the adults were gathered around the dining table with a cup in hand.

“Good morning Reid, did you sleep ok last night?” Uncle James asked me, “I woke up a couple of times when the wind was really howling, but I managed to get back to sleep eventually,” I replied. “Well, you have just survived a category three cyclone, for the first time, congratulations,’ Tim added.

“What do you mean survived, I thought the cyclone was going to be way South of us,” I exclaimed in surprise, “Well, I know from experience, never to rely on the bureau of Meteorology, for exact tracking of cyclones, as they have a regular tendency to change directions, which is exactly what happened early this morning, and it crossed the coast just 20 kilometres south of us,” Uncle James said.

“Wow, so it nearly went right over the top of us,” I said in surprise, “Yes, cyclones can be up to 200 kilometres in diameter, so we were definitely in the cyclone’s path. I have already been down to the jetty, which had come out unscathed, as has the yacht. I would like to take a drive into Dundee beach and see how the rest of the community survived,” Tim said, “If you are going, take the chainsaw and axe, and make sure you wear your steel cap boots and leather gloves,” Uncle James said to his husband.

“I would like to go with you to please Mr Hope,” Declan asked, “Count us in too,” Dean added, “Right, well I better feed you all first,” Tracy said as she stood and headed for the kitchen, “Dean and Lance, while you are waiting for your breakfast, how about heading to the yacht and collect all of the fresh food that is in the fridges and bring it up to the house please,” Tim asked.

After a quick breakfast, Tim and the three crewmen headed into town in the Land Rover. “James, do you have your ears on, over,” we heard Tim say, and not realising that we had a two-way radio in the house, we watched as Uncle James walked into the office to answer the call.

“Receiving you dearest,” James replied, which had Tracy and Angela laughing, “There is a hell of a mess out here, we have only travelled half way down Launceston Road before we had to stop, because of a fallen gum tree, we may be out for quite some time, over,” Tim said, “Received that, keep in touch, and Angela asked if she should bring the yacht around to the main part of town, just before lunch time, over,” Uncle James replied, and Tim said he thought it was a good idea.

“When the rain dropped down to a light drizzle, Uncle James, Tracy, Angela, Toby and I went for a walk to explore the property. “This is truly a tropical paradise, you have done a wonderful job of making it look so great, and the raised boardwalk is a great idea,” Angela said after about ten minutes of walking.

“Thanks, it has taken us about four years to get it to this stage, and thankfully the taller trees seemed to have protected all of the smaller plants, from what I’ve seen so far, Uncle James replied, as we continued to walk, “Hey look, a small kangaroo, or is that a wallaby?” Toby said excitedly, and we alls topped to look where Toby was pointing.

“Yes a wallaby, and I see three of them, it is good to see that they have survived the cyclone,” Uncle James replied. When we arrived back at the house, Angela and Tracy went to change, to have a dip in the swimming pond, and Toby and I went to get changed, as our clothes were soaked through, when I heard the radio again.

“Tim to James, are you there, over?” I heard as I entered the main living area, there was no sign of Uncle James so I stepped into the office. “Uncle Tim, this is Reid speaking, I am not sure where Uncle James is at the moment, oh wait, I can see him, he is talking to the ladies, who are in the pond, over?” I replied, “Ok, let them know, that they need to bring the yacht over as soon as you can, as we have a few homeless residents, as a lot of the houses have been destroyed, over” Uncle Tim said.

“Righto, message received and I will pass it on straight away, over,” I responded, and when Uncle James put his hand on my should, I jumped in fright, “Jeeze, Uncle, give me a fright,” I said as I tried to calm down, and Uncle James the radio mic out of my hand.

“I heard that last message Tim, we will get moving right away, we should be there in about an hour for a guess, over” Uncle James said into the microphone. “Ok, and give Reid a hug from me, to help him calm down, over and out,” Tim said.

After receiving the required hug, Uncle James went out onto the patio and called out to the ladies, than we are needed in Dundee as soon as possible as the place had been virtually demolished,” Uncle James called out, and while Tracy and Uncle James prepared some packed meals, I went with Angela to the yacht, to get it ready for the short trip.

Less than an hour later we arrived at Dundee Beach to find the place in a shambles, with pieces of roofing and other materials scattered all over the place, lots of trees fallen over, as Angela skilfully reversed the yacht in as close as possible to the beach. The lads appeared from somewhere, and immediately began to set anchors, to keep the yacht in place.

“You do realise what the time is, or haven’t you checked the tide charts this morning,” Tim said to Angela when she appeared on the main deck, “Oh shoot, with all the news of distraction, it slipped my mind,” Angela replied, and Tim laughed while the lads shook their heads in disbelief.

Angela looked around the beach to get an idea of how high the water is, “When is high tide?” Angela asked, and Tim smiled, “Right now actually, so I guess you are going to be getting our yacht stuck in the mud for the next twenty four hours,” Tim responded, and Angela scratched her head.

“Is there some place we can go to anchor safely?” she asked, “I think you may find it a little too late for that,” Uncle James said. “Right lets shore up the yacht, so it doesn’t tip over and fill with water at the next high tide, Tim announced, and the lads set off to look for some large planks of wood or steel, to hold the yacht upright.

Angela headed back up to the bridge, to see if she can get the yacht out before it gets stuck in the mud, but she was only able to move about four metres, before the tides beat her, and she stopped the engines, to prevent any damage to them.

Sitting in a little sheltered area, behind a seawall, there was not much she could do, but watch as the water began to go further out and the yacht began to sink into the thick mud. Tim had cut up some fallen palm trunks and he and the lads fixed them into place, to keep the yacht standing upright.

The gangway was winched out, as far as it goes, which is 12 metres, just enough to get it to reach sandy beach instead of the mud. Once we were happy with yacht being secure, we all headed to the outdoor sheltered area of the Lodge of Dundee, where a lot of the remaining residents had gathered, to watch all he drama with the yacht.

“Good morning, my name is Dr James Shaw, and this is my partner Tim Hope,” Uncle James said to those gathered. “Your that couple who have been chased all over the place by the cyclone, is this the yacht?” one of the men said, and both Tim and Uncle James chuckled.

“Yes, that is us. We had a medical team with us for most of that time, until they disembarked at Maningrida to fly back to Darwin. That reminds me, did I hear an aircraft or two in the early evening yesterday?” Tim replied.
“Yes, the Territory Government organised it, to evacuate as many people as possible that are still here, and we are all that is left, and what is left of our homes and businesses. My name is George Harcourt, and I own the Lodge and the holiday park behind it,” another man said.

“Nice to meet you George, now can I suggest that we start getting organised, firstly anyone who has any kind of cuts or scratches, come and see me on the yacht, as we need to get them cleaned up, and I am sure my partner here is capable of giving you lot a hand with cleaning up, along with our two deck crew.

Oh one other thing, I am presuming that a lot of you no longer have safe and suitable accommodation, so for the duration of this cleanup operation, Tim and I would like to offer the use of our yacht for accommodation and meals, as we have plenty of both,” Uncle James said.

“Will it be safe with all that would to keep it upright, my name is Gladys, I am George’s Missus,” one of the women asked, “Tim here is an engineer, so I am sure that he has made sure that it is safe, now I suggest that you gather as much of your belongings as you can, and we will get you all settled into accommodation, if someone can give me a list of names, and we will get it sorted,” Uncle James said.

“I am Tim Hope, co-owner of this tub; Angela Gibson is our Captain, although she may be walking the plank at the end of the day…” Tim said starting to make introductions, and everyone gathered burst out laughing, and poor Angela tried to hide behind Tracy in embarrassment.

Copyright © March 2020 Preston Wigglesworth. All Rights Reserved.
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I think it’s great that James and Tim had the forethought to possibly use the yacht to help the people of Dundee. Although Angela has got the yacht stuck in the mud as a result of her forgetting to check the tide charts. It sounds like everyone has survived the cyclone and now they start the cleanup after it which will be a very big job, 


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It's great to see that everyone has survived the cyclones and that James and Tim are going to use the yacht to help the people of Dundee. Although it will be a while before they leave Dundee as Angela has got the yacht stuck in mud as she forgot to check the tides, perhaps she should walk the plank.

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Awesome chapter, they seem to be going from one drama to another, better times ahead I hope

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I feel for Reid going through his first cyclone, as his situation reminded me of going through Hurricane Carmen in the 1970s, stuck in the dorms, with the campus flooded. (For a California kid, the situation was tantamount to Dorothy comparing Kansas to Oz!)

I love that Tim and James are once again sallying forth to provide help where needed to their Dundee Beach neighbors.  They are incredible role models for Reid and Toby.

Angela, you have outdone Rudolph, as only his nose is red!  I would loan you my Farmers Almanac, but it's only good for the U.S. and Canada.  But don't worry:  You'll live down the embarrassing...eventually.... 😂

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