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“Excited, teary and emotional” was the reaction of the 50th Anniversary Cyclone Ada Memorial Committee secretary Kaye Cronan at today’s news that Whitsunday Regional Council voted to fund the memorial.
At today’s ordinary meeting in Bowen, Councillors voted 6-0 to approve the siting of the Cyclone Ada memorial at the Airlie Beach Foreshore at Anzac Point.
Council also voted to allocate up to $15,000 for construction of a monument and work in collaboration with the 50th Anniversary Cyclone Ada Memorial Committee for the construction, dedication and unveiling.
On January 18, 1970 severe Cyclone Ada hit the Whitsunday region causing widespread devastation to the islands, Shute Harbour, Airlie Beach, Cannonvale, Conway Beach and Proserpine with 90 per cent of buildings in the area damaged.
A total of 14 people perished in the disaster and so severe was the flooding that eight of the bodies were never recovered.
Mayor Andrew Willcox said Council had been in talks since late last year with the Cyclone Ada Memorial committee and he was proud to deliver today’s outcome.
“It has taken 49 years to become a reality but my Council is focused on doing not dawdling so today’s decision means it will finally be built.
“The Airlie Beach foreshore revitalisation project is nearing completion so what better place to incorporate such a significant memorial.
“The fact that we can have it built and unveiled on the 50th Anniversary of Cyclone Ada on January 18 next year will mean so much to the families of the 14 people who lost their lives during the severe weather event,” he said.
50th Anniversary Cyclone Ada Memorial Committee secretary Kaye Cronan said it was an emotional day for her and the people who experienced so much trauma during Cyclone Ada.
“I have contacted members of our committee and all are thrilled and absolutely delighted that the Council have decided to build the monument.
“We look forward to working in conjunction with the Council to complete this memorial as an important part of the Whitsunday area's history.
“Although we all have our own very raw memories of the cyclone, the committee feel that those 14 lives did matter and a memorial will mean so much to their families,” she said.
“Those in our community who lived through Cyclone Ada strongly believed a memorial should have been constructed years ago so it is fantastic that this Council has delivered on our dream.”
Deputy Mayor John Collins said the memorial will hold a special place in his heart as his father, Sgt Pat Collins, was Officer in Charge of the Proserpine Police Station during Ada.
“I can clearly remember my dad and his troops working day and night after the event to lead the recovery efforts.
“The findings from the reports post Cyclone Ada have been recognised as the catalyst for future preparations for cyclones.
“This included changes to the warning system with the warning siren for all radio and TV alerts and the establishment of the Qld State Emergency Service (SES),” he said.
Cr Jan Clifford modified the motion to provide funding for the construction and said that it was important a significant event in the region’s history be recognised with a memorial.
“Just like Cyclone Debbie, everybody who lived through Cyclone Ada was affected in some way so it is great that this funding from Council ensures the memorial will finally be built.”
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