TALES TO TELL: Cyclone Ada survivor Kaye Cronan at the reunion.
TALES TO TELL: Cyclone Ada survivor Kaye Cronan at the reunion.

One harrowing tale of Ada’s fury

KAYE Cronan (nee Mee) knows all too well the ferocity a cyclone can bring when it strikes.

Ms Cronan was asleep aboard the boat Daydream II when Cyclone Ada struck in 1970.

Moored in Shute Harbour, Ms Cronan, her husband, a relative and their deckhand were awoken by the howling wind at around 10pm.

"We broke our chain eventually," she recalled.

As they attempted to reach the dock, the vessel was blown on its side, taking on water.

"The boat was sinking there in front of the wharf and it actually finished up out from the first island when it settled on the bottom," Ms Cronan said.

"We were trying to get off the boat; I was washed through a window and cut pretty badly."

A relative of Ms Cronan's husband was below deck as the boat went down.

"My husband tried to rescue him but when he got to him he was face down in the water," she said.

In the water, the surviving trio was confronted by the wreckage of the Shute Harbour Motel blowing towards them.

"There were mattresses and lifejackets and things," Ms Cronan said.

"We had to pull those around us to stop being decapitated from sheets of glass and iron hurtling across the water from the motel."

Come daybreak, they were washed ashore at Cape Conway near Long Island Sound and found a life raft containing food and morphine.

"My husband administered the morphine to me," Ms Cronan said.

"I knew that because I was bleeding so much I had to have a slower heart rate to not bleed to death."

Eventually rescued and returned to Shute Harbour, Ms Cronan and her husband were put in the back of a station wagon for the trip to Proserpine Hospital.

Arriving at Myrtle Creek, the group found it impassable due to the flooding.

"The Hinschens lived in a house up on the bank," Ms Cronan said.

"They put their dinghy in the floodwater and ferried me across."

Finally reaching an ambulance, Ms Cronan crossed Proserpine Bridge just minutes before it was ruined by debris.

The power was out at Proserpine Hospital, straining the capabilities of the already reduced staff.

"There wasn't enough power to run the theatre lamp, so I was operated on under hurricane lantern," Ms Cronan said.

"My wounds were all infected.

"I had lost a huge amount of blood."

Ms Cronan was sedated for three days, with three local people plucked off the street to donate blood.

"They couldn't use the blood supply they had because the power was off and the fridges weren't working," she said.

"Those three people probably saved my life."


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