Wet weather and strong winds have been felt throughout Airlie Beach Sunday afternoon.
Wet weather and strong winds have been felt throughout Airlie Beach Sunday afternoon. Dane Lillingstone

Evacuations underway as Cyclone Debbie nears

EVACUATIONS are in full swing in the Whitsundays as police and SES contacted residents in the red and orange flood evacuation zones today.

Evacuations are also recommended for the Yellow Zone, who have been asked to voluntary evacuate or prepare to evacuate if directed.

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Letters are being sent out to residents in the danger zone warning them a "significant storm tide" is expected across the Whitsunday region in coming days.

 

A copy of the evacuation notice handed out at Port of Airlie this afternoon.
A copy of the evacuation notice handed out at Port of Airlie this afternoon. Contributed

The mandatory evacuation is recommending all residents in the red and orange zones leave their homes by tonight by either moving out of the danger zones and staying in alternative locations or leaving the area completely.

The Whitsunday Disaster Coordination Centre has advised that the storm shelters in Proserpine and Bowen will open tomorrow but no opening time has been confirmed.

 

A doorway sand bagged in Shute Harbour today in preparation for Cyclone Debbie.
A doorway sand bagged in Shute Harbour today in preparation for Cyclone Debbie. Sharon Smallwood

Port of Airlie resident Donald Inman was preparing his 42ft powerboat for the cyclone today when he got a visit from police and the SES.

"They said it's a mandatory evacuation and went through the details of the cyclone and said we recommend everyone leave," he said.

"Their main message was about personal safety.

"They said if you choose to stay, when you do decide to leave and you have any trouble, there may be no assistance available to you."

Mr Inman said he'd already prepared his boat and home the best he could by tying everything down stowing away any loose objects.

"We can't control the weather. you just have to take what happens," he said.

 

Weather closing in at Shute Harbour this afternoon.
Weather closing in at Shute Harbour this afternoon. Sharon Smallwood

Whitsunday Regional Council's website was inundated with traffic earlier as people scrambled to search what zone they are in, crashing the website. It is now back online.

The Whitsunday Disaster and Emergency Information page has also reminded residents that equipment connected to the nbn network will not work during a power blackout.

A spokesperson from the Whitsunday Disaster Coordination Centre said people in the danger zones had to get up and go.

"Where they go is up to them. If they've got friends in high places or if they can book in somewhere if possible. Some people have come into Proserpine for motels and hotels. You wouldn't want to leave it (evacuating) much longer," the spokesperson said.

If you aren't in a flood danger zone, it's recommended you finalise cyclone preparations now.

There are no reported road closures at this stage.

 

Airlie Beach Woolworths is almost completely out of bread on Sunday afternoon.
Airlie Beach Woolworths is almost completely out of bread on Sunday afternoon. Dane Lillingstone

The Bureau of Meteorology's latest update still predicts Cyclone Debbie to become a category 3 cyclone later this evening.

The cyclone is currently sustaining winds of 110 km/h near its centre and gusts up to 155 km/h. It's currently moving southwest at 8 km/h.

BoM still predicts the cyclone will cross Tuesday morning somewhere between Rollingstone and Proserpine.

Gale winds are expected to continue to develop tonight between Ayr and Mackay with destructive winds up to 125 km/h predicted for Monday morning.

Abnormally high tides are expected to occur south of Proserpine on the high tides on Monday.

 

The latest Cyclone Debbie storm map from BoM.
The latest Cyclone Debbie storm map from BoM. BoM

On Tuesday, residents between Rollingstone and Mackay are being specifically warned of the dangerous storm tide as the cyclone crosses the coast.

Queensland Police earlier issued an emergency alert for the Whitsunday region with a Storm Tide Watch issued for Dingo Beach, Conway Beach, Cape Upstart, Bowen, Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour from the Whitsunday Disaster Management Group.

More Whitsunday Coast Airport flights have been cancelled tomorrow including Tigerairs TT 337 and TT 393, Jetstar's JQ 833 and Virgin Australia's VA 116.

Hamilton Island Airport has also cancelled the majority of their flights to and from the airport.

You can contact the Whitsunday Disaster Coordination Centre on 1300972006.

The next BoM update will be at 8pm tonight.

 


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