TC Veronica: slow moving and making us wait
It’s been more than 30 hours under red alert for many Pilbara locals waiting for Tropical Cyclone Veronica to come and go.
As of 9pm tonight, there have been 56 Tropical Cyclone Advice updates from the Bureau of Meterology, and finally the forecasters have been able to tell residents of the north west that the angry lady’s core is now over the coast.
Slow moving, very slow moving, this is one cyclone that’s determined to make her presence felt for a prolonged period of time and residents are starting to sound fed up with having to be bunkered down.
This afternoon, Amanda Wehr from Hedland said her family had been fairing well. It was a common theme among the locals we spoke to, but the cyclone’s eye had yet to hit the coast and conditions could still get more hairy.
“Currently we are bunkered down in our house in Port Hedland fairly close to the ocean,” she said. “The sudden wind gusts are strong but overall we have faired very well. Lost a few tree branches but nothing major.
“It actually sounded worse through the night. I don't think we will get much worse.”
Bureau forecasters said: “The cyclone's core is over the coast just east of Roebourne and west of Port Hedland.
“The centre is forecast to remain near the coast this evening and overnight. Veronica is forecast to weaken overnight and start to move towards the west.
“Further weakening is expected during Monday with the system forecast to be below tropical cyclone intensity during Monday evening.”
But the problem isn’t just Veronica’s wind. She also bring water with her. Lots of water and at a time where tides are also naturally high, leaving emergency authorities nervous and warning residents not to do anything silly. They are concerned complacency could be a real problem.
At a press conference in Perth this afternoon, the Premier Mark McGowan took to a podium to lend a hand with getting the word out there that Veronica wasn’t to be messed with.
“You need to be very careful and listen to all the advice that’s being provided,” he said. “ It’s not one of those storms that’s going to pass through quickly, and so, therefore, be patient and sit tight.
“It might be difficult, people will want to get out, but the advice is stay indoors, stay safe and make sure your children are kept safe. Do everything you can to stay indoors.”
Karratha local Marg Bertling was more blunt and said, while cyclones weren’t uncommon in the area, sheltering from the storm had been frightening all the same.
“It is nerve-wracking,” she said. “I’m not gonna sit here and say I’m not afraid.”
And if it hadn’t all sounded alarming enough, emergency services crews revealed four babies decided that last night and today were great times to make their way into the world, leaving paramedics facing the elements to help ferry their mothers to hospital.
St John Ambulance north west regional manager Travis Gowland confirmed the service had been called to a woman who thought she was in labour shortly before 5pm yesterday (March 23) in Hedland.
“The station manager and paramedics delivered her to Hedland Health Campus.
“We understand she delivered a girl and named her Veronica.”
It was also confirmed another couple had been taken to Karratha’s Health Campus where they saw their daughter Wynter arrive safely.
7NEWS Perth’s Emily Baker has been on the scene in Port Hedland for the past few days, covering the weather system.
She and cameraman Matt Anderson have spent today sheltering at one of the town’s hotels to wait out the eye of the storm and proving that journalism isn’t as glamourous at it might seem, sharing very close sleeping quarters with fellow members of the press.
“We’ve been in Port Hedland and Karratha over the past couple of days to bring you the best pictures from the cyclone zone,” she said.
“I’ve never lived through a cyclone before so it’s been a real experience watching Veronica evolve and grow as well as speak to locals on the ground about their previous encounters and how they’ve been preparing for this one.
“Right now though we are in lock down on red alert at the IBIS Styles Hotel. We are sleeping side-by-side with other media in what we have been told is the safest part of the building.
“We will be doing live crosses from inside to make sure everyone is updated on the latest information so they can stay safe.”
The next cyclone update will be issued at 10pm this evening. Click here to see more.
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