UPDATE: Insurance vital with arrival of Cyclone Debbie
WITH potential damage to properties and vehicles on the minds of those set to be affected by Tropical Cyclone Debbie, insurance is a must.
Because of this Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen has held discussions with the Insurance Council of Australia, as well as one of Queensland's largest insurers Suncorp.
Assistance measures for people dealing with the aftermath of cyclone and storm surge damage were just some of the things discussed, he said.
"Suncorp have advised me that they have teams on standby to be deployed on the ground and they are gearing up their call centre capacity to take higher numbers of claim calls in the wake of Cyclone Debbie," he said.
"While we have to await the outcome of Cyclone Debbie to see just what the extent of the damage is to homes and businesses and crops in Mackay, Whitsundays, Bowen and Burdekin regions, the Insurance Council of Australia can also declare what they call an 'insurance catastrophe' depending on the number of people impacted."
Severe tropical Cyclone Debbie remains at category 3 intensity as at 6pm, according to the Bureau of Meteorology tracking map.
The cyclone continues to move west southwest at 6km/h but is expected to hit land on Tuesday morning between Cape Upstart and Cape Hillsborough, north of Mackay.
Gales have strengthened around the Whitsunday Islands and nearby coast, extending south to about Sarina.
These gusts are expected to increase to 260km/h near the centre of the system.
Severe flash flooding could be caused due to heavy rains in the central coast and Whitsundays.
This is also forecasted to spread to other parts of the northern and central Queensland coast and adjacent inland areas tonight and through to Tuesday.
RESIDENTS in the Whitsunday region are urged to stay indoors via a new warning for communities between Cardwell and St Lawrence to stay put ahead of Cyclone Debbie.
As at 5pm, an update from the Bureau of Meteorology tracking map shows the system is at a category 3 intensity with sustained winds near the centre of 155km/h and wind gusts to 220km/h.
The eye of the cyclone is now visible on the Bureau's Mackay rain radar.
Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie is currently moving southwest at 6km/h, slightly slower than the previous update and is 200km east northeast of Bowen and 205 km north northeast of Mackay.
The very destructive core is expected to make landfall early tomorrow morning between Ayr and Cape Hillsborough, north of Mackay with gusts potentially at 260km/h near the centre of the system.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) Commissioner Katarina Carroll said if an official evacuation order had not been made for an area, those within that area were told to stay indoors until the cyclone had passed.
"As the cyclone approaches, turn off all your electricity, gas and water and unplug all appliances, bring your family to the strongest part of the house and ensure your emergency kit is close by," she said.
"If the building you're sheltering in begins to beak up, immediately seek shelter under a strong table or bench or under a heavy mattress."
Ms Carroll said it was important to remain inside until official advice had been given which announced the cyclone had passed.
"Some people are not aware of the calm eye of the cyclone and mistakenly venture outside thinking that the threat has passed," she said.
While firefighters and State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers would be on hand to help the community when safe to do so, it was important for communities to be patient, Ms Carroll said.
"Our personnel in the warning areas will bunker down in the coming hours and will be limited in their capacity to respond to calls for help as the cyclone nears the coast," she said.
The warning of "if it's flooded, forget it" was also reinstated.
For storm and flood assistance contact the State Emergency Service (SES) on 132 500 and in a life threatening emergency call Triple Zero (000).
Local council websites will provide updates on local evacuation centres.