Cyclone Ita Steamrolls Queensland's Fields, Thousands of Homes Still Without Power
By Reissa Su | April 14, 2014 4:48 PM EST
Cyclone Ita has steamrolled the cane fields of Queensland as heavy rain and strong winds wreaked havoc on hundreds of hectares of cane over the weekend. Ita may have been downgraded to a tropical depression recently, but the storm's destructive force has been greatly felt.
Tropical Cyclone Ita is seen just off-shore near Cape Flattery, Queensland, Australia in this NOAA image taken by the Suomi NPP satellite's VIIRS instrument at 23:35EST April 10 or 03:35GMT April 11, 2014. Torrential rains were forcing residents and tourists to flee coastal areas along the Great Barrier Reef as the strongest cyclone in three years barrelled across the Coral Sea for the Australian mainland. Tropical Cyclone Ita is forecast by meteorologists to cross the coast near Cooktown on Australia's far northeast coast between 1100 and 1400 GMT. REUTERS/NOAA/NASA/Handout via Reuters
The cane fields in Australia's Queensland had been flooded as the Herbert River overflowed on April 13 which also cut the Ingham area off the north and south of Bruce Highway.
Steve Guazzo, a cane farmer in Ingham and vice-president of Canegrowers Australia, watched his fields flattened by the storm. He said the region has suffered millions of dollars in damages and productivity losses.
Aside from damage to agriculture, Cyclone Ita has left over 6,000 homes and businesses without electricity and could last for weeks as the storm moves away from the Queensland coast. According to Premier Campbell Newman, the worst-hit areas of the storm may continue to have no power for weeks.
Energy Minister Mark McArdle said damage in vegetation and accessibility issues have made it difficult to restore power to some parts of Kuranda and the northern beaches in Cairns. In Townsville, 736 homes have no power while 1,000 customers remain in the dark in the regions of Mackay, Whitsunday and Proserpine.
Queensland has been preparing for the arrival of Cyclone Ita, which was tagged as a Category 5 storm and likened to Haiyan. Weather experts have described Ita as the world's strongest storm in 2014. The cyclone hit the Cape York peninsula on April 11.
Residents in low-lying areas were advised to evacuate as Cyclone Ita was expected to bring destructive winds. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the massive storm was expected to bring raging waves in coastal and low-lying areas.
Despite the damages to property and crops, no deaths were reported during after the onslaught of Cyclone Ita. The storm is said to be the strongest storm to hit Australia since Cyclone Yasi which hit in 2011. The weather bureau said Cyclone Ita is a "serious threat" to communities in the north of Queensland coast.
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