Burnley friends caught up in heart of Australian cyclone Yasi

STORM: Burnley pals Shaun Dodd, Adam Bernard and Leigh Holden at Airlie Beach, Queensland, Australia before the Category 5 cyclone hit their home. (s)
STORM: Burnley pals Shaun Dodd, Adam Bernard and Leigh Holden at Airlie Beach, Queensland, Australia before the Category 5 cyclone hit their home. (s)

A MONSTER cyclone with winds of up to 180mph has hit the homes of three Burnley men who live in Australia.

Cyclone Yasi slammed into the coast of Queensland on Wednesday, tearing up trees, houses and power lines - and experts say it is the biggest storm the country has ever seen.

Burnley-born friends Adam Bernard (25), Shaun Dodd (26) and Leigh Holden (25) described the 500-mile wide mega storm as “terrifying” and had to barricade themselves into their Airlie Beach homes where a state-of-emergency has been declared.

Speaking to the Burnley Express as the storm hit, Adam said: “It is getting pretty bad now. It is really wild. We have just had to stay indoors and lock everything down. It will do some serious damage. It is the worst storm they have ever had here.”

Adam, whose parents live in Padiham Road, told how many people in the town had to be evacuated from their homes as emergency services warned an 8m high storm surge from the sea could swamp homes at the beachside resort.

Vital police, ambulance and fire services were also suspended for 24 hours while the storm passed.

“A lot of people have just left town here and abandoned their homes, but we stayed as the apartment where we live is built to withstand a Category 5 storm.

“There is no chance of our home blowing down but it is still pretty bad - we have got no power or anything. We have just got candles.

“I have never seen anything as bad as this. All the windows are taped up, all the furniture inside and we have just got to ride it out.”

Adam, who moved to Airlie Beach 12 months ago to meet up with his pals, explained he had experienced a tropical storm before - but nothing on the scale of Cyclone Yasi.

“When I arrived last year there was a Category 3 cyclone in Queensland, but it was nowhere near as bad as this. It will tear the roofs off houses.

“I would not like to see what damage it does.”

Adam, who works as a maintenance man, is worried the high winds and tides could destroy his workplace.

“I work on Long Island. The whole place has been evacuated. If the storm wipes it out I will have nowhere to work.”

Fears are that the passing storm will turn as it travels down the coast and hit the area for a second time and Adam’s parents are monitoring the worsening situation.

His dad Richard said: “It is worrying watching it all happen on the TV as we are so far away and there is nothing you can do.

“The electricity has gone over there but we have kept in touch with him. You can hear the winds down the phone - it sounds like an express train.

“We have been following what’s going on on the web. They had a storm last March and it devastated the place but that was nothing compared to the one now. My wife Lynne is very concerned.”