North Queensland residents who have not evacuated have been warned to remain in a secure part of their house as Tropical Cyclone Debbie continues to bear down on the mainland.
The category four cyclone is expected to hit the Queensland coast at around 1PM AEST.
“I need people to stay in place, the key message is to stay where you are; do not move,” said Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. “Everyone must remain in place, this is for people’s safety.”
The eye of the cyclone was over Hayman Island at 8 AM, where gusts of up to 190 km/h were recorded.
Bowen, 200km south of Townsville, is expected to bear the brunt of the impact with possible gusts of 250km/h.
Mother-of-three Karen Bugeja, who lives in Mackay, south of Bowen, tells WHO: "The wind comes in really strong gusts then it stops for a few minutes. The rain we are getting is just flooding. Our pool is like a wave pool, overflowing.”
Queensland Deputy Police Commissioner Stephan Gollschewski told the ABC there are already reports of damage. “We’re getting some reports already of roofs starting to lift, including at some of our own facilities in the Whitsundays,” he said.
Says Bugeja: “We’ve tied everything down but I don’t like the big pine tree near our house—there are bits of it all over the yard."