Emergency crews and the Australian Army will begin the mammoth task of attending to communities of far north Queensland this morning, assisting with the clean up and searching for victims of Tropical Cyclone Debbie.
As the sun rises on the state this morning, the full extent of the damage caused by the slow-moving Category 4 cyclone will be revealed.
As of 3am Wednesday, the storm was still moving inland after last night being downgraded to a Category 2. It is now a tropical low.
— Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland (@BOM_Qld) March 28, 2017
The Bureau of Meteorology, however, has warned that heavy rainfall and damaging wind gusts would continue across the region, with a high possibility of flash flooding in some areas.
Cyclone Debbie hit the mainland near Airlie Beach around 12.30pm (1.30pm AEDT) yesterday.
Before that, it smashed the Whitsunday Islands with gusts of up to 263km/h.
As many as 45,000 homes reportedly remain without power. Some have already reported that the storm tore the roofs off their homes. Flooding also remains a concern where some communities received more than 200mm of rain an hour at the peak of the storm.
Sky News is reporting that a 1300km stretch of coast from Ayr to Tweed Heads is under threat of flooding in the wake of the cyclone.
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) March 28, 2017
Last night prime minister Malcolm Turnbull confirmed there had been one death as a result of the storm, “a car accident caused by strong winds”.
Although at the time he said it was still to early to assess the damage.
“It’s a very dangerous storm, a very strong storm as you know. There will be damage. But we won’t be able to assess that until tomorrow.”
The pics and videos are starting to flow in this morning. A plane flipped at Bowen airport:
— Allyson Horn (@allysonhorn) March 28, 2017
And boats worth approximately $10 million have crashed into a bank on Hamilton Island.
Yachts were also adrift at Airlie Beach.
Whitsunday regional councillor Mike Brunker echoed Turnbull’s thoughts but said: “The place has been smashed.”
Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk described Cyclone Debbie as a “one-in-100-year event”.
Another man was badly hurt in Proserpine, 100km north of Mackay, after a wall collapsed on him. He was taken to hospital.
Police commissioner Ian Stewart said more casualties or even fatalities were likely.
A missing man, 68-year-old David Clarke, who last spoke to his wife on the phone to say the roof had lifted off their house in Proserpine, has been found safe, according to Channel 9.
An aerial search for two missing men will be conducted this morning after their a boat crashed into rocks in the Whitsundays.
— 7 News Sydney (@7NewsSydney) March 28, 2017
Meanwhile, the Insurance Council of Australia declared a catastrophe soon after the cyclone hit land.
It has already been compared to Cyclone Yasi, which caused insured losses of $1.4 billion and an economic impact more than double that amount.
Turnbull also said that the federal treasurer has spoken to the banking and insurance sectors to ensure that they are “seen to be very supportive and responsive, compassionate, considerate, flexible in making sure that claims are met”.
“The ATO of course will be doing the same in terms of the way it deals with its clients. So right across the board, we are bringing everything, every wing of the national Government, our Government, working with the state Government, to support the people of North Queensland.”
Here’s a look at the destruction so far
— Jess Millward (@JessMillward9) March 28, 2017
— Lawrence Champness (@champy) March 27, 2017
— Josh Bavas (@JoshBavas) March 28, 2017
Here’s a look at the cyclone when it was at its peak
— Andy Barber (@Exist2Chase) March 28, 2017
— Cameron Berkman (@CameronWBerkman) March 27, 2017
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