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Photo capturing kids' first contact with outside world after Cyclone Debbie wins national award

by Sophie Meixner and Meecham Philpott, Friday November 24, 2017 - 09:26 EDT
ABC licensed image
The photo captures Mia, Sonny, and Ruby with family dog Elki watching help finally reach their cyclone-damaged property. - ABC licensed

Three kids, a dog, and the first sight of relief after three days of isolation.

That is the subject of a photo which is becoming a symbol of the devastation left by tropical Cyclone Debbie after it took out a national photography award this week.

North Queensland photographer Summer Mulvey snapped a photo of her three kids and family dog watching hopefully as a backhoe approaches their property after being cut off from the outside world for three days.

The image was taken after the cyclone in March and yesterday won first place in this year's Resilient Australia National Photography Award.

Emotional response

Ms Mulvey said the photo was completely unplanned and captured her children's relief at establishing contact with emergency services after going without power, running water or the ability to contact loved ones.

"It was not posed at all, it was just me following the kids out to see this excitement of the dozer," she said.

"We could hear it clearing the trees down the driveway, so the kids ran out, it was completely natural.

"I just stood back taking it all in and just snapped some shots."

The family, who live at Brandy Creek between Airlie Beach and Proserpine, suffered minor damage to their house during the weather event but lost their shed, which collapsed onto their boat and motorbike.

"There was a little bit of structural damage, a broken window, but it wasn't too bad," Ms Mulvey said.

"We were quite lucky, it could have been a lot worse if the roof had come off."

Reminder to buy a generator

Ms Mulvey said her children Mia, Ruby, and Sonny kept busy during the three days of isolation by doing art and craft but the emotional toll of the devastation only hit after they realised the extent of the damage to their area.

She named the photo First Sight of Relief because it captured her kids' "full-on" response to see signs of help from the outside world.

"Seeing the digger come down the driveway, the dog's excited to see someone as well, it's quite powerful," she said.

"My little daughter Ruby, her hair's got dreads in it, we lived pretty rough for those few days so I think that's the emotional power of the photo that really took.

"I remember it being long and rough and it reminds me that we need to buy a generator because I don't want to be stuck in that situation again."

More than 180 entries were received for this year's Resilient Australia Awards, which are in their 18th year.

The awards showcase individuals and groups across Australia who demonstrate resilience and preparedness responding to natural disasters.


© ABC 2017

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