• A tree is fallen across a road at Airlie Beach, Tuesday, March 28, 2017. (AAP)
Trees are down and some are reporting power loss, as mainland north Queensland towns await the worst of cyclone's 250km/h winds.
Source:
NITV News
28 Mar 2017 - 9:32 AM  UPDATED 28 Mar 2017 - 2:58 PM

Queensland emergency services and the Bureau of Meteorology say Cyclone Debbie is now beginning to make landfall between Bowen and Airlie Beach.

The storm had moved as slow as 4km/h in heading to the north Queensland coast on Tuesday morning but quickened to 12km/h as the eyewall made landfall.

The exposed mainland town of Airlie Beach is being battered by the cyclone, after blasting the Whitsunday Islands off the north Queensland coast.

Debbie remains a category 4 - the worst cyclone to hit Queensland in six years - and is packing sustained winds near the centre of 175km/h, and gusts of up to 260km/h.

The eye of the storm was passing over Hayman Island at around 11.30am.

NITV News spoke to Paul Ryle Brown who said that form early this morning conditions got significantly worse in the town of Bowen, damaging trees and buildings in the area.

"It wasn't long after we spoke last that the electricity went out and it's just been absolutely hammering now, the wind from then til now has just been hammering," Paul said.

"The awning out the front, it got peeled off, a couple of trees out the front on the public land have been blown over and yeah the roof is flapping around. There's a bit of water coming in and nothing drastic at this stage anyway.

"They were saying it was coming over late this afternoon on the news and that but we're just in the best of it now, it's just been absolutely hammering."

In East Mackay, Mattie Crowe lives just four houses away from the coastline where the storm is expected to impact Mackay the hardest.

"We have lost power around 40 minutes ago. The wind and rain is really severe but the gusts are doing the most damage," he said.

"The storm surge tide is due to hit/peak in about 15 minutes and I'm in the flood zone but stayed in my house. I'm feeling calm although this is my first cyclone as I moved here in 2015 from Canberra and was narrowly missed by cyclone Marcia in the first couple of weeks of living in Queensland.

He lives in a two storey house, but fears he will have to relocate upstairs when the tidal surge hits during the peak of the cyclone.

"I feel like my house is going to be flooded or the roof will come off but I'm really hoping both don't happen at the same time. To stay safe I'm in the bottom brick lounge room in my home watching movies on my phone and keeping up to date with the Facebook coverage and Mackay warnings."

'It's just a waiting game'

Townsville resident Tahlia Ahoy said earlier today that while it was her first time experiencing something like this, her partner had been through Cyclone Yasi and was making sure their family was prepared.

"The situation at the moment is non-stop bad winds and raining on and off," Tahlia Ahoy told NITV News.

"My partner and I live in northward which is on the water we had to relocate inland to my partners sisters house yesterday, both our work places are on lockdown until further notice also our daughters day care. It's just a waiting game at the moment.

Chris Roberts, an Australian Army Rifleman also living in Townsville, said that he wasn't feeling too concerned at the moment.

"[it's] extremely calm compared to what we were originally told would happen - so far," he said.

"Feeling safe and prepared, got bottled water and mostly perishable foods because I don't think the power will go out, and no concerns so far."

Queensland’s state emergency service (SES) has warned that residents in the storm’s path could be waiting until Wednesday for emergency help, as the destructive slow-moving storm keeps the region in lockdown for hours.

North region SES manager Dale Camp said dangerous conditions will hamper any clean-up efforts.

"We have to wait for that wind to die down before we move around, and if it's at night time it makes it very difficult to see things like floodwaters, so they'll probably be waiting until first light tomorrow," he said.

"It's a very slow-moving cyclone, so we're talking anywhere between six and 14 hours until it's completely over in each location. So that puts it well into this evening, and that's the problem, everyone is going to have to stay in their house all day, and then stay there all night as well.”

 

The police commissioner said it was now time for communities to settle in and wait it out.

"This has a long way to go ... this is such a slow-moving tropical cyclone, it is like a battering ram effect. These winds are going to keep pounding, pounding, pounding," he said.

"I suspect before the day is out, we will see a lot of structural damage in the cyclone's path."

He said flooding was also likely, as the cyclone moved overland and became a rain depression.

The bureau has already warned some areas could see about half a metre of rain associated with the cyclone, and Mr Stewart said inland communities must understand the danger.

"One of the worst cyclone disasters in Queensland history occurred out at Clermont where 60 odd people drowned because of the rain and the flooding effect of a post-cyclone."

With AAP