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Cyclone Yasi UPDATE: Here’s what we know today

A house ripped apart in Innisfail

1:00pm Cairns residents who sought shelter from Tropical Cyclone Yasi overnight can now return to their homes.

Police, SES, Emergency Services, Transport and Main Roads and electricity authorities are currently conducting assessments in regards to damaged caused by Tropical Cyclone Yasi in the Cairns area. This process is expected to take a number of days to complete.

Motorists in the Cairns area are urged to avoid unnecessary travel in order to keep roads cleared for emergency services and local authorities during this time.

10:30am People in Cairns have been warned not return to storm surge areas. A second surge is developing in some areas, and dangerous flooding is occurring.

There are still gale force winds and heavy rain

No reports of casualties or fatalities although we are still waiting on reports from small and isolated communities

No structural damage to evacuation centres but they will remain in lock down until after the high tide has passed

Second storm surge is occurring right now. Waves are crashing over the esplanade in Cairns and this surge is higher than last night.

Major flooding is expected in the northern suburbs of Townsville and Ingham this afternoon.

There is a heavy rain band between Macaky and Townsville which is bringing flooding and may require evacuations

Palm Island, despite being out in the middle of the cyclone area, is reported to be doing well with no major structural devastation although some roofs have been lost

uprooted palm tree

9am. Winds are weakening but still disruptive. There are still very heavy rain areas.  Winds are easing around the east and moving inland fairly rapidly.

8am: Residents urged to stay indoors. Power lines are down, there is debris on the roads and flooding is likely with a high tide still expected this morning. History shows that more people die in the aftermath of a cyclone than in the actual storm.  Stay safe indoors

20 Telstra mobile sub stations are down

6-8 hours left in generators and still no power

Destructive gale force winds are still blowing

Storm surge not as bad as expected because the storm hit land after high tide but there are still big waves and a high tide expected this morning.

Today is the day when pets will go missing- please ID all pets, keep dogs on lead and cats confined

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7am: Yasi hit land last night around midnight at Mission Beach which is being described as “ground zero”. First, the good news: no reports of deaths or injuries but with power out across large parts of Northern Queensland and light only just breaking, reports are still extremely patchy.

Here’s what we know:

  • Yasi downgraded to Category 2
  • Mass devastation in Tully, Innisfail, Mission Beach, Silkwood, Cardwell
  • 1 Baby born in evacuation centre
  • 2 Babies born at Innisfail hospital
  • Power cuts spread across state’s north
  • No injuries or fatalities reported
  • Cyclone Yasi has devastated banana plantations in far-north Queensland, which supplies 90 per cent of Australia’s production.
  • 90% of Tully has been hit
  • Mission Beach has been smashed. Roofs blown off houses, power poles fallen into houses, devastation everywhere

Brisbane Times reports:

The north Queensland town of Tully is a scene of mass devastation with roofs torn from houses and power poles knocked over by the powerful cyclone.But Yasi’s fury has been felt hundreds of kilometres away, in Cairns to the north, and Townsville to the south, and all the places in between.

Rick Threlfall from the Bureau of Meteorology told ABC Radio this morning “the worst of it is probably over on the coast” but warned the tropical storm remained very dangerous as it headed inland.

‘‘All the way across the north of the state, through the course of today, will probably see some gale force winds and a few places as well the destructive winds,’’ Mr Threlfall said.

From The Australian:

In Cairns and Townsville, vast swathes of both cities are without power, including evacuation centres, leaving residents to wait out the maelstrom in the dark.

Late last night, state disaster coordinator Ian Stewart said deaths were “very likely” as he detailed the plight of a group of six holed up in a Port Hinchinbrook unit complex, calling for help that simply could not be sent.

And some beautiful news from the Courier Mail:

AMID the chaos and devastation of Cyclone Yasi, a baby girl has been born at a Cairns evacuation centre. A Red Cross official told AAP the baby girl was delivered healthy at 6.09am (AEST) after a three hour labour.

The baby has not been named yet, but she won’t be called Yasi. Earlier in the morning Cairns councillor Linda Cooper told AAP Akiko Pruss went into labour at the evacuation centre at Redlynch State College at 2.45am (AEST).

The baby will not be called Yasi, Ms Cooper said. “Akiko doesn’t like that name at all,” she said.

Here is the 9:30am press conference with Anna Bligh:

[youtube ShmfBR3n-ek 640 390]

Do you have a story to share? How did Cyclone Yasi affect you, your friends and your relatives ?