On Tuesday, March 28, Australia was hit by Cyclone Debbie, a category 4 storm comparable in damage to Cyclone Yasi in 2011.
The storm primarily struck the Queensland coast, hitting Airlie Beach, Hamilton Island, Proserpine, Bowen, Collinsville, and Mackay. Although not the worst storm to grace Queensland, it was incredibly large, and there has been a substantial amount of flooding as well as destruction of houses and buildings. Walls, roof tiles, and glass windows were blown away by winds at 260 km an hour. In addition, a bull shark was found washed up on land in Ayr, Queensland, prompting authorities to order people to stay away from floodwaters. Around 50,000 people were reported to be cut off from power. Many are in desperate need of fuel, food, power, water, and shelter.
During the storm, Queensland’s premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, expressed concern for those who could not contact emergency services. She also urged people to stay indoors, saying, “If you have plans tonight to go out and see friends, to see neighbors, to travel, please do not. Stay in your home; this is for one night. I need to have the roads clear for our emergency services personnel if they do need to go to the assistance of people.”
Cyclone Debbie’s damages will cost Australia billions of dollars, bringing a massive hit to their economy. It was hard to determine the exact amount of damage at first, with so many people unable to access emergency services. Now, however, we know that the disaster zone is 1,000 km (600 miles) wide. It is also known that four people have died because of floods, and at least three are missing. The destruction of rail lines will take five weeks to repair. Floods are reported to be around the same size as Texas. People are expecting lots of rain in the aftermath of the cyclone, which will last until around Thursday.