Return of football helps lift the spirits of Northampton locals after cyclone Seroja devastation

Victor TantiGeraldton Guardian
Northampton president Damian Harris, Northampton RSL President Bevan Suckling and the teams take part in an Anzac Day service before Sunday’s game.
Camera IconNorthampton president Damian Harris, Northampton RSL President Bevan Suckling and the teams take part in an Anzac Day service before Sunday’s game. Credit: Supplied, Barry Mitchell/Snapaction

Cyclone Seroja did her worst on April 11 and destroyed or severely damaged around half of Northampton and Kalbarri.

The next day, Shire president Craig Simkin said it was as if a "bomb had gone off” as he viewed ruined buildings and flattened trees, power poles, sheds and fences.

The Shire’s residents were briefly dazed, Category 3 cyclones normally strike further north where structures are cyclone strengthened but they soon banded together and got to work.

In a community such as ours sport is important and after the event we had, I think a lot of people wanted to be here and celebrate the positives.

That community spirit was on show on Sunday when a huge crowd watched Northampton beat Chapman Valley in the GNFL.

“I was at the dawn (Anzac Day) service in Kalbarri and then the service at Northampton and then here at the footy where we had a very large attendance,” Cr Simkin said.

“In a community such as ours sport is important and after the event we had, I think a lot of people wanted to be here and celebrate the positives.”

The Northampton ground lit up at night.
Camera IconThe Northampton ground lit up at night. Credit: Barry Mitchell/Snapaction

Has there ever been a harder time for the people of Northampton? The town was flooded in 1900 and damage was extensive but Seroja topped that.

Emotionally, World War I must have left deep scars as 47 of the Northampton’s finest men (Kalbarri did not exist then) were killed out of a population of about 1500.

Many others did not completely return physically or mentally but that was a sadness all Australia shared. Property however can be restored and at Northampton, Kalbarri and other towns where Cyclone Seroja wielded her winds, her victory was fleeting.

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