Survivors will be experiencing emotional memories on the 40th anniversary of Cyclone Tracy, but should feel proud of the way the city has bounced back, Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles says.
Christmas Eve marks the night the storm tore Darwin apart, killing 66 and destroying about 80 per cent of its buildings.
“For many Territorians the pain of that stolen Christmas 40 years ago remains very real and I know that this will be an emotional few days for many survivors,” Chief Minister Adam Giles said on Wednesday.
“But I would like those survivors to know that just like 1974, your fellow Territorians are here for you, to support you and help you through this difficult time.”
He said the way the community pulled together and rebuilt the city should be a great source of pride.
“On this 40th anniversary, I ask Territorians to reflect on the great debt we owe to those who pulled Darwin out of the rubble and laid the groundwork for our great northern capital,” he said.
Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove said Darwin today was vastly different from what he saw a few days after the storm.
“It looked then like it had been subjected to an enormous bombing raid,” he said in a statement.
“Hardly any of the older houses had roofs, the place was in turmoil and most streets were still blocked.”
He led part of the Army contingent in the clean-up, and lauded the stoicism of the remaining citizens.
“There was a great deal of frustration and dismay at the enormous damage. But almost immediately, that was replaced with a determination to get the place back in running order and, of course, to rebuild.”
He said that Darwin today “is one of the finest cities in our part of the world, and that’s a great testament to the character and resolve of the people in the region”.
Mr Giles urged residents to reflect on their preparedness for another similar disaster.
“We have come a long way in four decades but Territorians will never forget the terror inflicted on the city 40 years ago tonight or those who lost their lives in the disaster.”