Australians woke up Wednesday to the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie as destructive winds and flooding rains continued to slam Queensland.
Thousands of people took shelter as resorts along the world-famous Great Barrier Reef and mainland coastal areas were belted Tuesday with wind gusts stronger than 260 kilometers per hour. By early Wednesday, however, the Bureau of Meterology downgraded the storm to a tropical low, with wind gusts of 85 kph.
There were early reports of significant structural damage to homes and public infrastructure. Two people were injured, one with serious head injuries after being hit by a falling wall, police said. More than 51,000 homes were without power.
Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said people needed to prepare for more reports of damage, as well as injuries and possibly deaths from the storm.
Shortly before the eye of the storm reached the mainland, wind gusts of 262 kph were reported nearby at Hamilton Island, where tourists were sheltering in hotels. Tens of thousands of people along the coast were evacuated to higher ground.
Queensland State Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that all roads around the affected towns of Bowen, Airlie Beach and Proserpine were cut. She urged residents to stay indoors so that emergency personnel could begin work on restoring roads and infrastructure.