AS I WRITE this, Cyclone Yasi, category five, is bearing down on the Cairns/Innisfail area. Here in Mackay we have been told to expect winds reaching 100kph, a tidal surge and flood rains and storms.
Cyclones are something that Denyse and I have learnt to live with, but they are always frightening. I have lived in a cyclone area in Qld for around 50 years, and Denyse and I were part of the relief team for Cyclone Tracy when it devastated Darwin at Christmas, 1974.
In the past 12 months we have seen cyclones Ului and Anthony pass close by with very strong winds and flooding rain.
With flooding rain predicted, there is not much you can do other than move your RV to higher ground. In a severe storm warning we tie down our van, and there are various ways to do this.
Our retirement village has tie down points for every RV. According to regulations, if you do not have your RV tied down with a specified size of chain or rope, it must be removed from the village. Also, all wheels must be chocked, front and back.
In our section, heavy chains about 800mm long have been welded on to the large steel posts supporting the roof. These are positioned so you can attach your own chain or rope to each corner of your van. In another uncovered RV area, heavy lengths of chain have been concreted into the slab near each wheel, plus another single point for the A frame.
Chains work to anchor your RV to the spot, but they may save only the chassis in a severe cyclone. If you wish to make it more secure, I suggest attaching straps to the tie down points and crossing them diagonally over or around your van.
In this situation, you can protect the RV body from chafing by enclosing the straps with rubber hose, or by jamming a towel underneath at points of contact.
In an area where tie down points are not available, I suggest driving star pickets in to the ground at each corner of your van at an angle. When a weather warning is released, chain these to your chassis at the rear and both sides of your A frame up front.
On top of this, if required, tie ropes or straps around the van as described above. Don’t forget to chock each wheel front and back.
Make sure your gas bottles and water tanks are full, because if your van survives the cyclone, you may need them. Your caravan battery (if you have one) should also be charged, and keep a torch and batteries in the van.
A number of caravan parks do have tie down points on their slabs in cyclone areas, such as Qld and WA. Many have evacuation policies in cyclone and severe weather warnings.
Ed’s note: Tony and Denyse lost power for a number of hours, during which time they ran the fridge off a generator and cooked breakfast on their barbecue. They (and their van) remain safe and sound following the cyclone.