Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Yasi made landfall in Queensland around midnight. The cyclone is weakening as it continues to move inland. The communities of Innisfail, Mission Beach, Tully, Cardwell and Silkwood are reported to have felt the hardest impact.
Morning has brought no initial reports of deaths or serious injuries, after the most powerful cyclone ever to hit Australia’s northeastern coast. This is surely a testament to cyclone preparations and evacuation efforts in the state. Three babies were born during the height of the storm, one in the eye of the storm in Innisfail.
Although the worst may be over, Yasi is moving inland. High winds are expected as far inland as Mt Isa later in the day.
Although no lose of life has been reported, buildings have been destroyed, roofs have been torn off houses, trees have been shredded, and debris has been blocking roads. Authorities are yet to get to some more isolated communities and rural properties. Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has said that 90% of buildings in Tully’s central business district have been extensively damaged and there is widespread damage in Cardwell.
The Premier has reported that only about 15% of Townsville currently has power, with many power company workers affected themselves. She has stressed that after Cyclone Larry it took 4 weeks for everyone to have power reconnected.
She also said that 25 mobile telecommunications stations have been knocked out from Cairns to Mackay, and people should expect disruptions to the mobile network, as many stations are currently running off generators.
There are many people ready and willing to go in and help with the clean-up as soon as it is safe enough to do so. Bligh has also indicated that government natural disaster relief payments will be made available to those affected by Cyclone Yasi.
The Red Cross has reported that people have been in good spirits in evacuation centres, in the face of this terrifying and unprecedented weather event.