'We cried for 12 months after Debbie destroyed our home'
TWO Years ago Barry and Julia Pickering thought they had their lives sorted.
They'd built a successful real estate consultancy and were living on a secluded island retreat in the Whitsunday Islands.
That was until March 28, 2017, when Cyclone Debbie came knocking.
The family were told they would be safe but the storm rapidly changed course.
They got a call from the Coast Guard saying they had 20 minutes to leave the island but it was too late.
Julie, Barry and their dog Chicho huddled in the bathroom while Debbie washed part of their home out to sea.
Their daughter and her husband were in the guest cabin set back from the beach.
They spent the storm playing cards, oblivious you what their parents were going through.
"We thought we were protected because we hadn't been hit before," Mrs Pickering said.
"Once it all finished we had no water, no power and no sewerage. We didn't see anyone for a few days and then the Coast Guard came to see if we were still alive."
Physically they were fine, but the cyclone took a toll mentally.
"We cried for the first 12 months," Mrs Pickering said.
With no home, the couple moved south. They visited Warwick in February and fell in love with the place.
Despite losing the family home to the disaster, the Pickerings were adamant property was the best form of security for a family. The couple moved to Warwick earlier this year and took over managing Aleva Estate on Yangan Rd.
The couple said Warwick had the lifestyle they wanted and theycould still be close to their children. Plus, there were no cyclones in Warwick.