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Cyclone Debbie struck the state of Queensland on Tuesday afternoon, causing huge damage, with the brunt of the cyclone hitting the tourism hot-spot islands, Daydream and Hayman.

Some areas have been drenched in "a phenomenal" 1,000 millimetres (39 inches) of rain in just 48 hours - the equivalent of half a year's worth, according to the weather bureau.

Australia's military has joined in the effort to reach cut off communities, while around 60,000 homes were at one point without power.

Category 4 cyclones bring very destructive winds of up to 173 miles per hour (279 km/hr)-one level below the most risky wind speed.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk called for residents affected by flooding and storms to stay indoors and reassured those already affected that help was on the way.

Nearly 90 people - many stranded on the top of houses, cars and verandahs - were rescued by emergency workers yesterday morning after being trapped by floodwaters just west of cyclone-battered Mackay.

"We don't want parents and children to be on the road in 90 km/h weather or heavy rainfall", Trad said.

"We've escaped the brunt of the cyclone, we're pretty relieved", Calder said.

Dawn broke on scenes of devastation.

Pictures from Hamilton Island and Airlie Beach showed streets stacked with snapped trees, roof tiles and furniture, with wrecked yachts washed ashore.

Whitsunday Regional Council mayor Andrew Willcox described cyclone-ravaged Bowen as "like a war zone".

Wind gusts of up to 270kph were reported near Debbie's broad core. I do, you must as well.

Great Barrier Reef islands popular with foreign tourists were among the worst hit.

On the upside, he said infrastructure damage at this stage appeared minimal.

"Operating under Joint Task Force 661 (JTF 661), the Defence response will see our sailors, soldiers and airmen undertaking a wide variety of tasks in support of Queensland Fire and Emergency Services and other disaster coordination authorities", Major General Smith said.

  • Leroy Wright