Traffic edges past fallen trees in Victoria Street in Mackay’s CBD yesterday.
Traffic edges past fallen trees in Victoria Street in Mackay’s CBD yesterday. AAP

Whitsundays hit by 200kmh gusts

WINDS of 100kmh in Mackay and over 200kmh in the Whitsundays delivered a powerful blow to the region as cyclone Ului engulfed our coastline in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands bore the brunt of the assault with some homes and businesses flooded and roofs ripped from homes.

There was extensive damage to yachts berthed in the Whitsunday region — many, including Sydney to Hobart winner Ragamuffin, were blown on to rocks while others were sunk.

Cane farmers in the region have also suffered damage to their crops.

Parents were advised to contact Education Queensland or their children’s school to check if schools were operating as usual.

Residents were well prepared and battened down the hatches throughout Saturday as people in Mackay, Proserpine and Airlie Beach braced for the destructive winds and heavy rains.

Ului, which developed during Saturday into a category three cyclone, crossed over Airlie Beach at 1.30am with a force that uprooted trees throughout the region.

Mackay Regional Council Mayor Col Meng said SES, Council and Ergon Energy crews were working on the clean-up of the city and restoring power to 55,000 homes that lost electricity. Tens of thousands of homes were still without electricity last night.

“We are relieved that the cyclone has passed. However we are concerned for flooding coming down from Mirani Weir throughout Sunday afternoon and evening,” Cr Meng said.

He said no-one was injured by the destructive winds and he commended the community of the Mackay region for their preparation and focus on putting safety first.

“Most residents stayed indoors and I congratulate them for staying off the streets,” he said.

Cr Meng said that once the dangerous, cyclonic conditions had passed, Ergon Energy crews worked around the clock to restore power.

Staff and patients at Sarina Hospital lost power and were evacuated on Saturday night while the water treatment plant lost power. However there were no interruptions to town water.

Residents are able to dispose of green waste for free at Paget, Hay Point, Sarina, Otterburn, Finch Hatton and Bloomsbury for the next week.

The Bucasia, Bayersville and Walkerston dumps will expand on their usual hours of operation and be available for green waste disposal all week.

Yesterday Queensland Premier Anna Bligh visited Proserpine, Airlie Beach and Mackay to inspect the damage caused by Ului.

Premier Bligh arrived in Mackay at 2pm, where she met with Ergon Energy, SES and emergency service crews. She was given an update on damage to the region and delivered a State Government promise to help the Mackay and Whitsunday region.

The Bureau of Meteorology said heavy rainfall after the cyclone crossed the coast caused headwaters in the Pioneer River catchment to rise quickly, which caused moderate to major flooding in Cattle Creek.

The Pioneer River at the Forgan Bridge did not exceed minor flood levels, but was expected to remain high until after the high tide during the early hours today.



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