Cyclone leaves hundreds homeless
Hundreds of residents in far north Queensland
remain homeless and thousands are without power and water
after Cyclone Larry devastated the region.
The cyclone has caused few injuries but more than half of the homes in Innisfail have been destroyed.
Cairns police Acting Inspector Mike Keating says it is a horrendous sight, with houses reduced to rubble.
He says residents on the Atherton Tablelands are also suffering.
"They are without power and that means they don't have water or sewage," he said.
Cyclone Larry, which crossed the coast as a category 5 cyclone yesterday morning, has been downgraded to category 1 and is moving inland.
A flood warning from Innisfail to Townsville remains in force.
The Counter Disaster and Rescue Service
crews are still having problems getting access to the Innisfail region.
services personnel are currently travelling from Cairns and Townsville to help residents.
Spokesman Frank Pagano says the main road is blocked in both directions, but other options are being considered.
"Our aim is to check out and open the rail system as soon as possible, and the airport
at Innisfail is open for emergency services workers," he said.
"We have been working with Defence in relation to aerial deployment and black hawks. Last report they were in Hughenden ready to be deployed."
Premier Peter Beattie says authorities in Innisfail are trying to clear the local showground for a helicopter landing site.
Mr Beattie also says generators are being dispatched, along with 2,000 tarpaulins from Brisbane
But Independent federal MP Bob Katter says more emergency help is needed, especially in Innisfail.
"We're into our 24th hour of this crisis and we have still only got a couple of tarpaulins here," he said.
"The people here have been working around the clock. Some have had no sleep in the 48 hours, so we need help and assistance to put those tarpaulins up."
Mr Beattie says help is on the way, but patience is needed.
"It's really bashed and belted, poor old Innisfail, so we need to get there to give them all the support we can," he said.
"But I just appeal to people to be patient, we will do everything we can to help them and we'll move as quickly as we can to help them, but we're going to have a number of very frustrating days for everybody."
Meanwhile, the mayor of the Herberton Shire, west of Cairns, is appealing for a generator
for the local hospital.
It is currently running by candlelight.
Many tourists were caught off guard by the cyclone.
At Tully, south of Cairns, Red Cross worker Noelene Byrne helped to evacuate dozens of young backpackers.
Many were staying at a local caravan park.
"They needed to be evacuated, so we ended up with about 70 young overseas tourists," she said.
"All of a sudden they find something like this happening, they were frightened."
Some schools to reopen
The cyclone forced the closure of 156 state schools on Monday.
The state's Education Minister, Rod Welford, says most will reopen today.
"Many students in the outlying areas will still have difficulty getting to school
through road closures and other problems of access," he said.
"Schools in the Atherton, Cairns, Cardwell, Croydon, Eacham, Etheridge, Herberton, Johnstone, Mareeba and Yarrabah will still be closed."