Thousands Take Shelter as Cyclone Debbie Lashes Australian Coastal Region

The storm earlier pounded the Whitsunday Islands, with gusts of 263 km/h recorded at Hamilton Island while the jetty at Daydream Island was virtually washed away.

It is now moving inland as a category 1 storm, according to local media reports.

Mrs Clarke, who is now in hospital at Townsville, said she contacted emergency services but they were unable to help due to the unsafe conditions.

Debbie ripped a trail of destruction through northeast Australia on Tuesday as a category four storm, one rung below the most unsafe wind speed level, before being gradually downgraded through the night to a tropical low.

'Our islands, our Whitsunday islands, are some of the most lovely, pristine islands in the world that people come from all around the world to visit.

State recovery co-ordinator, Brigadier Chris Field, who co-ordinated clean-up efforts following Cyclone Yasi in Queensland in 2011, will lead recovery efforts.

It was later downgraded to a Category Three storm.

"He called me to say the roof had come off and the ceiling caved in, one of the side doors was blown off and he pushed something heavy against it", she told the Courier Mail.

"My own roller door blew off yesterday".

There were fears its arrival would coincide with early morning high tides and cause severe flooding, but it slowed before making landfall between the towns of Bowen and Airlie Beach in the early afternoon. Debbie nearly certainly won't be the last storm.

A boat smashed against the bank at Shute Harbour, Airlie Beach, Wednesday, March 29, 2017, near the point where Cyclone Debbie hit Queensland's far north coast yesterday as a category 4 cyclone, causing wide spread damage.

"They're going to need some help up there as well".

Some 58,000 homes are without power.

In Bowen, SES controller David Thicker said it was still unsafe for people to be outside.

Energy companies, emergency workers and volunteers and other authorities are expected to conduct a sweep after first light.

"I ask everyone to please be patient", Mr Willcox said, adding that everyone needed to remain in their homes until help arrived or the all clear was given. Those family members in turn contacted police.

  • Salvatore Jensen