Even though Cyclone Ita was downgraded to a Category 4 as it hit the coastline it did some fairly impressive damage as it swept its way inland travelling south-westerly. Winds have dropped from 300 km/hr to 180 km/hr according to the last update but the rain and winds are still an issue.
So far the Cape and the surrounding islands have suffered the most damage at the hands of Ita but it was still strong enough when it got to Cooktown last night to make quite the impression according to reports that are coming in.
It may no longer be a category 4 or 5 but the winds are still more than enough to make a very large mess as it moves down the coast.
I do want to share a funny little aside that I saw on the coverage of Cooktown this morning. The old Cooktown pub took a great deal of damage and in fact lost its entire roof and rear section. This however was not the primary concern of the locals who ventured outside into the rain to see what damage had occurred overnight. The first question some of the townsfolk asked was not about the power or damage to homes, oh no we Aussies have our priorities and so the first building to be checked was the pub and the first question asked was ‘Is the tap for the beer still working and did the cold room survive’.
We’re a tough lot, those of us who live in the Northern parts of Queensland and as funny as that question may seem to outsiders it was meant with deep sincerity and concern. Once informed that the tap did work and the cold room had remained intact [the owner actually stayed at his pub instead of the storm shelter – to protect alcohol] everyone calmed down and just started talking about clearing the debris around it and having a cold one.
Further up the coast we can find some brand new beach front properties with a view that just can’t be beat. The question is of course is are they so close to the water due to the storm surge and high tide moving the water line just a little inland or did they appear out of the cyclone overnight in a manner reminiscent of Dorothy in Oz. We’re still waiting for more images of the damage in Cooktown but the loss of power and cell towers makes information harder to get in and out so far.
The worst seems to have passed for the far North and Cooktown but the storm system is now heading at a steady pace toward Port Douglas, Cairns and Townsville, bringing with it storm surges, high winds and heavy rain. Power is out in the far north and not expected to be back on in under 4 weeks and flooding is expected in towns along the coast over the next 48 hours.