Single mother of three, Crystal Allen at her cyclone damaged home in Mandalay this week.
Single mother of three, Crystal Allen at her cyclone damaged home in Mandalay this week. Peter Carruthers

Single mother in tears at donation

HER nickname is Smiley, a moniker that references Crystal Allen's usual happy disposition.

But since Cyclone Debbie hit, it has been a challenge for the single mother of three to maintain her usual upbeat outlook.

Seven months on from the category four storm, Ms Allen and her children are still "camping" in their Mandalay home.

There is no ceiling and plasterboard is missing from the walls. There is a network of extension cords running through the house and the damp has created an odour which is almost impossible to remove.

"We practically lost everything" she said.

On top of having to replace everything when the roof leaked in March, Ms Allen had tradesmen in to make repairs who ripped her off. "I am over it, I am done. This is just getting ridiculous, it's going to be Christmas soon," Ms Allen said.

"Back in August when they were saying you need to be out (to make repairs), we were going to move into the tent in the backyard," she said.


Single mother of three, Crystal Allen with her son Tyson (right) and Rhys Williams-Allen at thier Mandalay home on Tuesday.
CYCLONE DAMAGE: Single mother-of-three Crystal Allen with her sons Tyson (left) and Rhys Williams-Allen at their Mandalay home on Tuesday. Peter Carruthers

"But since then someone tried to break into the house while I was still awake. They tried to crawl over my son while he was asleep before the sheeting over the windows was up properly."

Ms Allen is still waiting for repairs to the rental property, which she has let for eight years.

She is reluctant to move out because to do so would interrupt a routine her autistic son depends on for stability.

And where would the family move?

Rental accommodation is scarce in the wake of TC Debbie as tradespeople take up residence in the Whitsundays to work on island resorts.

Relief in the form of a $1000 cheque from a new community initiative by Anderson Scaffolding (see page 17) brought Ms Allen to tears.

"I just cried and cried," she said.