CYCLONE ADA MEMORIAL: Jeanie Grosskreutz, Barbara Southwood, Gloria De Martini, David Steen and Kaye Cronan at their first meeting in March.
CYCLONE ADA MEMORIAL: Jeanie Grosskreutz, Barbara Southwood, Gloria De Martini, David Steen and Kaye Cronan at their first meeting in March. Georgia Simpson

$15,000 so we don't forget tragedy

EMOTIONS were running high as $15,000 worth of funding was announced today for the long overdue Cyclone Ada Memorial.

"Excited, teary and emotional” was the reaction of Cyclone Ada Memorial Fund secretary Kaye Cronan, who is also a survivor of the mega storm.

Whitsunday Regional Council has announced it will allocate up to $15,000 for the project, after councillors voted 6-0 to approve the sitting of the Cyclone Ada Memorial at the Airlie Beach Foreshore at Anzac Point.

Council will work in collaboration with the Cyclone Ada Memorial Fund, for the construction, dedication and unveiling of the monument, in time for the 50th anniversary in January next year.

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.

Mrs 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,” she said.

She added, the committee was looking forward to working in conjunction with the council to complete the memorial, as it was such 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.”

Mayor Andrew Willcox said the 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,” he said.

"The Airlie Beach foreshore revitalisation project is nearing completion, so what better place to incorporate such a significant memorial.”

Cr Willcox said having the memorial built and unveiled on the 50th anniversary of Cyclone Ada was so important for the families of the 14 people who perished during the storm.

Deputy Mayor John Collins said the memorial would 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,” he said.

"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 Queensland State Emergency Service (SES).”

Cr Jan Clifford modified the motion to provide funding for the construction and said 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.”