NEWS AND PHOTOS FROM CYCLONE ITA
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.