26 Jul Here in History : Cyclone of 1949
With Betty Laver
When the Gladstone residents were alerted to a cyclone in early 1949, they breathed a sigh of relief when it was reported as having passed the harbour. Little did they realise that a day or so later, on the 2nd of March, the cyclone would return and heave it’s fury on the township. Cyclonic winds, accompanied by torrential rain, kept up their ferocity for about sixteen hours.
The wind in Gladstone was reported at 160km (100 miles) per hour, while at Cape Capricorn and North Reef Lighthouse, the gusts exceeded 200km per hour. Churches, schools, business houses and private homes were either damaged or destroyed and boats were thrown onto mud banks. Roof metal, boards and other objects were airborne, and the police, firemen and other helpers were threatened by these flying obstacles. The Brick Presbyterian Church, built in 1868, was demolished as were the Star of the Sea Convent and school buildings.
St Saviour’s Church of England was unroofed and St Matthews in the valley was totally lost. Several buildings in the Central State School complex were partially unroofed and water caused impairment to the school’s books. The meatworks received considerable damage, but this was only superficial, and the corporation closed for just a couple of day’s repairs. Friends Store in Goondoon Street sustained some damage to it’s roof, whilst some other business houses had roof or plate glass window problems, causing the stock to be water damaged.