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First Christmas since cyclone Seroja has Northampton family counting their blessings

Phoebe PinGeraldton Guardian
Northampton resident Hannah Cross, centre, with her children Corbin, 6, Cooper, three months old, and Cole Cross, 3.
Camera IconNorthampton resident Hannah Cross, centre, with her children Corbin, 6, Cooper, three months old, and Cole Cross, 3. Credit: Phoebe Pin

Blissfully unaware of the chaotic year his Northampton family has had, baby Cooper Cross gurgles with delight in his Christmas suit.

The happy three-month-old is now part of a generation of new locals who are not likely to break out into a sweat every time the skies rumble with thunder.

Months before he was born, Cooper’s tough-as-nails mother Hannah Cross was about 20 weeks pregnant when she sheltered under a mattress with her two boys, her husband Gregory and his cousin as cyclone Seroja sucked the roof off from over their heads.

Three-year-old Cole thought guns were going off when the thunder started rumbling the walls of their rental property on April 11, with Mrs Cross saying they had not been expecting for the severity of the storm.

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“We thought we were prepared but we weren’t,” she said.

“We taped the windows but they all smashed and we tied down the trampoline to the house but I still don’t know where that trampoline is.”

The family made a dash to Mrs Cross’ parents house when the winds subsided, with the mother of three saying they had no idea how horrific the damage was to their own home until they returned the next morning.

“Coming back and seeing the house was just crazy because we didn’t think when we were leaving it was that bad,” she said.

“We woke up the next morning and everything has gone, we had nothing . . . not even a knife and fork because it was all seeped in insulation from the roof.”

Most of the damaged goods have slowly been replaced, but Mrs Cross is still mourning the loss of family keepsakes and treasures which have been lost forever.

“All my eldest’s baby photos are all gone . . . I lost my wedding band, “ she said.

“When I first went out to the house after the cyclone it was really quite hard. I asked my aunty and other friends who came to help to keep anything sentimental that could be saved but the rest of it we threw out.”

Mrs Cross said talk of the night from hell still troubled Corbin, 6, and Cole, 3, who are busy playing with Christmas crackers under the tree.

The children sit in a sea of cardboard and party hats, but Mrs Cross says the mess doesn’t bother her as it once did.

“I have been telling myself, ‘it is Christmas, let the kids have fun’,” she said.

“That is one of my biggest things now since going through the cyclone; I always just stop and think ‘let them enjoy it’ instead of running around cleaning after them.

“The kids had oodles of toys (which were destroyed in the cyclone) and now coming up to Christmas time and having a little bit more money, I have spoilt them rotten just to try and replace what they had.”

The young family shuffled between temporary accommodation before moving in July to a Shire of Northampton-owned property often used to house visiting doctors.

Mrs Cross said they used their insurance payout to buy a block of land, but it could be upwards of two years before any construction works started.

Many residents whose homes were rendered uninhabitable are in the same boat, with bright blue tarps draped over buildings taking the place of Christmas lights and decorations around Northampton this year.

But Mrs Cross said Northampton was a resilient community and locals would rebuild.

“The town came together a lot at the start . . . we are quite a good community,” she said.

Now eight months on from the ordeal, Mrs Cross said her family was looking forward to a 2022 of fresh beginnings, with she recently passing her nursing exams and Mr Cross just securing a new job.

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