Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

THE Whit­sun­day re­gion copped a drench­ing from Trop­i­cal Cy­clone Ita which ar­rived on Sun­day, April 13.

The sys­tem ini­tially made land­fall at Cape Flat­tery, north of Cook­town, as a cat­e­gory 4 cy­clone – the big­gest since Se­vere Trop­i­cal Cy­clone Yasi in 2011.

De­creas­ing in in­ten­sity it then tracked down the coast as a cat­e­gory 1 sys­tem bring­ing gales with gusts of up to 110km per hour and tor­ren­tial rain.

On Sun­day, Bowen recorded 93mm in the one hour to 2pm with the Bruce High­way closed to the south by 3pm.

Flights to and from the Whit­sun­day Coast and Hamil­ton Is­land air­ports were can­celled and the Re­gional Har­bour Mas­ter closed the Whit­sun­day pi­lotage area at 3pm.

At 4pm the Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy (BOM) es­ti­mated Trop­i­cal Cy­clone Ita was 15km south­east of Bowen and 55km west of Hay­man Is­land, mov­ing at 26 km per hour.

By 5pm some res­i­dents in Ju­bilee Pocket had lost power and by 6pm the sys­tem had crossed the coast, head­ing back out to sea.

Ca­su­al­ties of the cy­clone in­cluded a boat which crashed onto the rocks at the Whit­sun­day Sail­ing Club.

One he­li­copter res­cue and three swift wa­ter res­cues were con­ducted – one at Collinvale Road, 10km north of Proser­pine, one at Crofton Creek on the Gre­gory-Can­non Val­ley Road and one at Shute Har­bour Road, Hamil­ton Plains.

Se­nior Con­sta­ble Alan Davis from the Proser­pine Po­lice Sta­tion said po­lice were very dis­ap­pointed that people per­sisted with driv­ing through flood wa­ters dur­ing the cy­clonic event.

“People [are] ig­nor­ing the in­for­ma­tion cam­paign in re­gards to ‘if it’s flooded, for­get it’,” he said.

“These driv­ers for­get it is not just their lives they are plac­ing at risk but that of their pas­sen­gers and the emer­gency ser­vice work­ers who then have to try to res­cue them.”

Of­fi­cer in Charge of the Whit­sun­day Po­lice Sta­tion, Act­ing Se­nior Sergeant Brad Teys said some power lines were down in Shute Har­bour and Flame­tree but in gen­eral people did the right thing in stay­ing at home and “rid­ing it out”.

The sun was shin­ing again on Mon­day, with the re­gion’s tourism body send­ing ‘open for busi­ness’ mes­sages out.

The real vic­tims of the cy­clone have been the re­gion’s farm­ers many of whom have dev­as­tated crops.

Whit­sun­day MP Ja­son Costi­gan, who has been in­spect­ing the dam­age, said the grow­ers he met were fac­ing up­wards of $500k losses.

Both the federal and state gov­ern­ments are pledg­ing their sup­port.

BIRDS-EYE-VIEW: Wide­spread flood­ing was one of the big­gest prob­lems caused by Trop­i­cal Cy­clone Ita. This photo was taken by Ian Wells and Julie Hands who went fly­ing from their property in Lethe­brook on Mon­day morn­ing.

CA­SU­ALTY: Shortly af­ter this photo was taken, this boat hit the rocks at the Whit­sun­day Sail­ing Club. Photo by David Cran­son.

SHIP WRECKED: Af­ter the cy­clone passed on Sun­day, people started to gather on the rock wall at the Whit­sun­day Sail­ing Club where a boat was washed ashore.

FLOODED: Gre­gory Can­non Val­ley Road at 3.45pm on Sun­day.

AFTERMATH: The scene af­ter Cy­clone Ita hit. Photo by Toby Kro­ner Pho­tog­ra­phy.

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