By Jack Ward
ARARAT, Australia – Tropical Cyclone Debbie ploughed through the east coast of Queensland last week, bringing havoc to communities that not long ago had rebuilt from Cyclone Yasi, which devastated the east coast in 2011.
According to the Courier Mail, a Queensland newspaper, the storm and its flooding killed at least four people.
By March 27, Cyclone Debbie was a category four system and honing in on the east coast of Australia. She was expected to land early the next morning, but overnight she slowed down, delaying her arrival until midday. In the earlier hours of Tuesday morning, residents were feeling the winds picking up – the destruction was just beginning.
For the next 12 hours, Cyclone Debbie slowly crossed the coast causing massive devastation to Bowen, surrounding towns and islands. By late afternoon Debbie had crossed the coast and was downgraded to a category three. Debbie was no longer a cyclone on Wednesday, but instead a tropical low storm.
Many Queenslanders were well prepared for the arrival destructive system, with modern day technology warning residents of the storm. As a result of this technology they spent the days leading up to Debbie’s arrival battening down the hatches, making sure things wouldn’t blow away and create danger for others.
After the storm, residents and emergency service personnel began searching for missing people and assessing the damage.
Debbie had turned town after town into a complete mess. The storm pulled trees out of the ground and blew roofs off homes. The Queensland agricultural industry is expected to be severely affected.
Reached through a company representative, John Pratt, executive general manager of Wilmar Sugar Australia, said that the damaged caused by Cyclone Debbie cannot be fully accessed yet.
“Preliminary inspections of our sugar mills at Proserpine and Plane Creek indicate there has been no significant damage from Cyclone Debbie,” said Pratt in the March 30 statement. “Some infrastructure at the sites has sustained minor damaged, but we are confident this will not impact our ability to have the factories ready for the start of crushing in June.”
With the cyclone in the past, another major issue has arisen for Queensland and New South Wales. Due to the massive rainfall from the storm, flooding has occurred in areas that weren’t prepared.
Parts of South Queensland and North New South Wales received more than 400 mm of rain in a 24-hour period – almost 16 inches – according to the Bureau of Meteorology. This massive amount of rainfall caused rivers and creeks to burst their banks, inundating communities.
In a prepared release issued March 30, Queensland Regional Hydrology Manager Victoria Dodds said heavy rain has subsided but flooding is expected to continue for several days.
Communities now have to wait for the flooding to recede before the recovery operation can begin.
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