Post cyclone support close to home

Published on Mr Richard Mihaich (author)

Location(s): Hideaway Bay

Topic(s): Operations, HMAS Melville (A246), Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (HADR)

Able Seaman Marine Technician Ian Hines with family members who are local residents of Hide Away Beach. (photo: Unknown)
Able Seaman Marine Technician Ian Hines with family members who are local residents of Hide Away Beach.

For Chief Petty Officer Naval Police Coxswain Simon Smith, the welcome Australian Defence personnel received from communities in the wake of Cyclone Debbie was what made the job worthwhile.

“It’s a reminder of why we do what we do,” he said.

During recent force assignment to Operation QUEENSLAND ASSIST, he and the rest of the team on hydrographic ship HMAS Melville were tasked with conducting assessments of the usability of Bowen Harbour and clearing other boat landings in the surrounding areas.

Able Seaman Marine Technician Ian Hines was in Melville's rigid hull inflatable boat for assessments of Dingo and Hide Away Beaches, about 45 kilometres South of Bowen.

These areas were high on his personal priorities as his father, Andrew, a local resident of Hide Away Beach, had recently had heart surgery and was at his home when the cyclone tore through the two small communities.

Because of the loss of phone reception, Able Seaman Hines had not spoken to his father since two days before Cyclone Debbie hit. 

His concerns for his family were soon allayed as the ship's boat was greeted by Able Seaman Hines’ sister Melanie, who is pregnant and was with their father and father's partner Michele during the storm.

They were trapped in Mr Hines's home for more than 30 hours as they listened to roof iron flying and trees snapping all around them.

At one stage Mr Hines had to use his body to brace a wall, which contained a large window, to stop it blowing in.

Despite the fact Able Seaman Hines was able to spend less than an hour with his family, as he had to continue with his tasking, his father was extremely grateful.

“Thank you for letting my boy come and see me, and please pass on my thanks to your Captain and all the other members of the Defence Force who have helped cleaning up after Debbie,” Mr Hines said.