Cyclone Larry – The Devastating Impacts
It’s hard to forget the devastation that was caused by Cyclone Larry when it hit on 20 March 2006. The Category 5 storm struck the coast of Australia at the town of Innisfail, to the far north of Queensland. This was the first time a severe tropical cyclone had struck close to a populated area of the east coast of Queensland since Rona made an impact, in 1999.
The damage caused by Severe Tropical Cyclone Larry was extensive in the area involved. Crops, homes, and other properties were destroyed. The area covered by the destruction was not as vast as it could have been thanks to the relatively small size of category five Cyclone Larry. But the impact of Cyclone Larry was nonetheless devastating for those involved. This can clearly be seen by looking at different aspects of the impact.
- Cyclone Larry hit on 20 March 2006.
- The Category 5 storm struck the coast of Australia at the town of Innisfail, to the far north of Queensland.
- The estimated cost of damage to infrastructure and crops caused by Cyclone Larry was around one billion dollars.
- Government assistance of $222 million was provided by the Australian Government to help the people and businesses of the area recover.
Impact on the economy
The estimated cost of damage to infrastructure and crops caused by Cyclone Larry was around one billion dollars. The immediate course of the Queensland economy also changed dramatically due to the destruction of crops that could not be replaced straight away.
This led to the cost of food soaring. The rise was especially noticeable in the case of bananas, sugar, and related products. This was due to banana plantations being ripped apart and sugar plantations being devastated. This level of destruction meant that bananas in particular were in short supply in Australia. In the case of bananas, prices rose by around 400-500% across the country.
Impact on the environment
As reported by local news, around half of the homes in Innisfail were damaged by the cyclone. 80% of homes in nearby Babinda were also affected and Mission Beach was also impacted. It was not just buildings that were affected either.
Trees were uprooted by the cyclone and the Great Barrier Reef suffered damage. Debris was a major concern as it was strewn across the area leading to pollution concerns as well as further damage. This was especially the case for the Great Barrier Reef where a considerable amount of the destruction caused was the result of debris crashing into coral.
Looking more closely, environmental impacts also included:
- The suffocation of fish and marine animals caused by dislodged mud filling their lungs.
- The destruction of parts of the rainforest which meant that animals lost their natural habitat.
- Ongoing environmental damage caused by debris being left lying around.
There were no reported deaths and only minor injuries as a result of Cyclone Larry. However, many people suffered as a result of being made homeless. This did not destroy their spirits. As is the case during many disasters, the people of the area came together to help each other out. This was a positive impact of Cyclone Larry.
More than 150 people helped with the clean-up; some came from other parts of the country. Altogether, they put in around 6,000 hours of community service to make homes habitable again and clean up the environment.
Overall, people in the area affected by Cyclone Larry felt a considerable impact. But they worked together to make sure that they moved on from the disaster and brought the economy back on track.
Disaster Relief After Cyclone Larry
As you might expect following such a devastating storm, recovery efforts after Cyclone Larry were expensive.
As a result government assistance of $222 million was provided by the Australian Government to help people in the far north of Queensland to rebuild their lives. This included:
- $117 million to businesses and farmers including grants.
- $37 million to people who were unable to live in their homes for at least two weeks.
- $2.3 million in fuel excise relief.
In addition to providing this money, the government gave $1.1 million to the Tropical Cyclone Larry Relief Fund. This contribution was matched by the Queensland Government.
The government also paid around $16.8 million to subsidise the wages of employees so that their employment could be maintained by businesses. This wage subsidy meant that farmers and businesses in the area could apply for $400 per fortnight for each full-time employee up to a maximum of thirteen weeks until the end of October 2006.
Given the amount of devastation that the area had suffered, all of this financial help was very welcome for primary industries and individuals adversely affected by the cyclone. They were able to begin to recover from the devastating impacts of Cyclone Larry and make an effort to return to normality.