Returning to normal after Ului
THE Whitsundays is edging towards normality after Cyclone Ului turned life upside down on Sunday.
Just 2000 Ergon Energy customers in the Proserpine/Whitsunday region are still in the dark after power went out late on Saturday night and stayed out for at least 48 hours.
In most cases, businesses were the first to come back online and although trade came to a grinding halt from Saturday night until Tuesday, industry’s big wheel is now rolling again.
With the exception of Cannonvale State School students, all of the Whitsundays’ school kids had at least one day off while their learning environment was restored to its usual standard of safety.
Although the cost of Ului is still to be counted, the category three cyclone was described as "a made to order cyclone" by Whitsunday Mayor Mike Brunker after less than 10 houses suffered major roof damage and no major injuries were reported.
Damage on the land was perhaps less significant than the damage on the water with more than 20 boats sunk or washed ashore, some of which were also the owners’ homes.
The cost is likely to be greatest to the two industries that drive the economy of the Whitsundays - tourism and sugarcane.
Early estimates from Canegrowers Proserpine indicate that at least $8 million will be lost from this year’s harvest – about 10 per cent of the crop’s annual value.
It’s not so easy to put a figure on tourism losses but concerns have been raised about the negative publicity being pedalled to the nation regarding the state the Whitsundays has been left in by Ului.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has moved to abate these concerns by releasing a public statement urging holidaymakers to honour their Easter bookings but early signs indicate the horse may have bolted as cancellations continue to flow in.