“Thanks be to God that the cyclone did not cross the coast at a highly populated area.”
That’s the good news reported by Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA) Queensland District President Noel Noack after Cyclone Yasi roared across northern Queensland Feb. 3 with winds up to 170 mph.
“While we feel for the people directly in its path who have lost homes and property, we can thank God that there were no lives lost,” Noack said to Linda Macqueen, editor of The Lutheran magazine, the day after what is described as one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in Australia.
The cyclone destroyed or seriously damaged hundreds of houses and shredded hundreds of millions of dollars of crops, according to news reports. Reports describe thousands more homes as barely livable until soaked debris can be cleared.
“Homes, properties and crops in and around Cardwell, Mission Beach and Tully, which were in the direct line of the cyclone, have been extensively damaged,” Macqueen reported Feb. 3. “Many homes have been completely destroyed and sugar-cane and banana crops have been flattened. The region produces 75 percent of Australia’s bananas.”
But officials said lives were spared as people in Yasi’s path sought refuge in evacuation centers or bunkered at home. Noack praised God “for the work of our emergency services people, as they prepared people for this potential disaster. Who knows how many lives were saved as a result of their work in evacuating people from the most dangerous areas.”
LCMS President Rev. Matthew C. Harrison said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with our Australian brothers and sisters in Christ. Christ’s strength be yours that you may ‘comfort others with the comfort we have in Christ.’ Even from afar, we ache knowing firsthand the challenges that such a storm brings and knowing, too, so many Australian Lutheran friends.”
Australians now are cleaning up, piling drenched mattresses and assessing damages. Several thousand are temporarily homeless, but reports say people are amazed and relieved the cyclone didn’t deliver a more powerful blow.
“Thank you for your interest and for your prayers,” Macqueen said. “It does appear that God has heard them and answered them.”
Posted Feb. 3, 2011