Marcia damages 1,500 homes in Australia
MACKAY, Australia – Australian officials on Sunday, February 22, said all efforts were being made to help those affected by tropical cyclone Marcia which smashed through Queensland state.
Marcia left 1,500 homes damaged and thousands without electricity.
It was one of two fierce cyclones which hit northern Australia within hours on Friday, February 20.
The first tropical cyclone, Lam, hit remote communities in the Northern Territory near Elcho Island, some 500 kilometers (about 300 miles) east of Darwin.
Marcia, a maximum category 5 storm, tore through eastern Queensland, badly affecting Yeppoon, about 670 kilometers north of the capital Brisbane, before heading south to Rockhampton.
"We've had assessments of over 1,500 houses that have had some kind of structural damage," Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.
"In Yeppoon and Rockhampton around 100 are severely impacted...people can't go back into their homes. Our fundamental priority now is on those families who have been the most severely impacted."
As the clean-up gathered pace, electricity and telephone companies were working to restore power and communications.
"There are over 1,800 (power) lines down. This is absolutely significant, and we are doing everything we possible can to restore power," Palaszczuk said.
The government has committed army reservists to help with the clean up in Yeppoon, as well as disaster relief funding to those affected in Queensland.
"The power of the cyclone is evident everywhere, the destruction of the vegetation is extraordinary, obviously a lot of buildings have been severely damaged," Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said.
Despite the destruction, authorities have so far not received reports of serious injuries or deaths but residents have spoken of the terror of the storm.
"You could see the neighbors' roofs flying across the paddock," said Karen Johnston, who was in her home in Marmor, some 45 kilometers south of Rockhampton, as the cyclone passed.
"And the horses were running around the paddock and all I could think was, 'We are going to have a horse decapitated or sliced in half'," she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
The Bureau of Meteorology canceled its severe weather warning for Queensland on Sunday, saying ex-tropical cyclone Marcia had now traveled offshore and was expected to remain there.
But flood warnings were in place for parts of the state's southeast, although the Mary River has peaked in the town of Gympie south of Rockhampton and is expected to recede.
Queensland has been smashed by several major storms and cyclones over the past few years with Cyclone Oswald, also a category 5, flooding parts of the state in 2013, racking up insurance claims of some Aus$977 million (US$765 million).
In the Northern Territory a state of emergency has been declared for the areas worst-hit by cyclone Lam. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com