Queensland is no stranger to strong cyclones having been struck by Cyclones Marcia and Nathan in 2015, Cyclone Ita in 2014 and Cyclone Yasi in 2011.
In the cyclone-hit tropical north, the poor weather has slowed what was expected to be a lengthy cleanup operation.
A woman and her baby at a temporary cyclone shlter in the town of Ayr. “Trees are down. I just had to do a bit of rally driving to get around the power pole that’s down and there’s wires down across the road about 100 yards from my house”, he said.
The sugar industry is bracing for damage that could run into tens of millions of dollars on lost yield from sugar cane that’s “been knocked over by a steam roller”, Paul Schembri, chairman of industry group Canegrowers, told the broadcaster.
“As expected the cyclone went south of our key growing areas”, an ABGC spokesperson said.
As the storm raged a baby girl was born at Whitsunday Ambulance Station.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who warned the storm was shaping up as a “monster” and would last for hours, said more than 30,000 homes were already without power.
Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said there was “certainly structural damage”, and at least one person had been badly injured by a collapsing wall. His condition is still not known.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters at the Crisis Coordination Centre in Canberra: “Nature has flung her worst at the people of Queensland”. “This one is actually taking its time, so the longer it takes, the more damage it will do – not just to our network but obviously to property as well”. Power companies appealed to people to stay away from fallen lines.
“Even a Category 1 cyclone can generate wind gusts up to 125kmh, sufficient to fell trees or send debris flying dangerously”, Whelan said.
No deaths were reported after Debbie tore a trail of destruction through Australia’s northeast on Tuesday as a category four storm, one rung below the most unsafe wind speed level, before being gradually downgraded to a tropical low.
Another 2,000 people in Bowen also moved, officials said, with many camped in cyclone shelters.
Hamilton Island, Proserpine and Airlie Beach bore the brunt of Cyclone Debbie, with strong winds threatening homes and businesses. When you have a look at the industries, the agricultural industries that are up in that area, we’re talking about a horticultural industry around the Bowen area that probably previous year turned over in excess of $450 million, and along with that, a cane industry around Burdekin, Proserpine, Mackay, (an) $850 million industry.
The Boost Juice manager, whose shop suffered minimal damage, said she and her children were in shock at what had happened elsewhere.