Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

David's Big Salvage Mission

Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

David's Big Salvage Mission

Article excerpt

DAVID Edge is the man behind salvage operations on 29 of the 80-plus boats strewn across Whitsunday shores thanks to Cyclone Debbie.

But when he began his epic task he didn't even have dry clothes.

On the day the cyclone hit, the Whitsunday resident of some 31 years was bunkered down in his home at Edges Boat Yard, deep in the mangroves past Jubilee Pocket.

Technically he shouldn't have been there.

According to Whitsunday Regional Council's flood zone mapping this was a "red zone" and residents had been told to evacuate.

But David had been through six cyclones in his three decades of living in the Whitsundays and he thought he knew what to expect.

And while Debbie may have exceeded his expectations one of his predictions turned out to be correct.

He was going to need his two salvage barges.

"Before the eye, the boatyard office blew away and then the roof peeled off my house. I was getting wet inside," he recalled.

"I had eight mooring lines on each barge and they were chafing and breaking. So I went out in the excavator to put more lines on - and I was worried about the glass blowing in on me.

"The leaves were peeling off the mangrove trees and it was like a swarm of locusts.

"I could only see 10 metres in front of me with all of them swirling around and if one hit you it was like someone throwing a rock at you."

Even at this early stage, David knew there were boats in the bay already in peril. "I knew there were boats breaking up because the water in the creek had diesel in it - I could smell it and I could see the (film of) oil," he said.

With no roof on his house and all his possessions ruined, David rode out the rest of the cyclone in the cab of his excavator inside his shed.

Like the rest of the region's residents he emerged when it was over to a devastating scene.

"I didn't have any dry clothes (and) I was sort of bewildered," he said.

"We had no power, but luckily my salvage barge had power and I knew we had work to do. …

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