GENERAL Peter Cosgrove said his Catholic faith had been reinforced by the inspirational courage shown by the people of far north Queensland in the aftermath of Cyclone Larry.
Cyclone Larry devastated the region on March 20 with winds up to 290 km per hour causing more than $1 billion damage to property and crops.
General Cosgrove, who is co-ordinating the recovery taskforce, spoke to The Catholic Leader on March 27, the day after an ecumenical service was held in the Johnstone Shire Hall in Innisfail.
The former Australian Defence Force chief said the service was a time for residents to give thanks that there was no loss of life in the cyclone.
Although no one died, hundreds of people remain homeless and unemployed.
General Cosgrove said when he watched the people of Innisfail and surrounding areas in the wake of the devastation their “courage and unifying spirit” was clear to see.
He said many people in far north Queensland were devout in their beliefs and that had helped them through the turmoil.
“People of faith are blessed in times of crisis,” he said.
General Cosgrove saw the devastation of Cyclone Tracy in Darwin in 1974 and said the damage from Cyclone Larry was “on par”.
He said the Indian Ocean tsunami on Boxing Day 2004, that killed 250,000 people in Indonesia alone, was the worst natural disaster he had witnessed.
General Cosgrove said the people of far north Queensland were still coming to terms with the disaster.
He said an “incredible effort” had gone into the disaster relief to help the stricken people.
General Cosgrove said he would be in Innisfail helping it rebuild after the cyclone for “months and months”.