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Burdekin braces as Yasi closes in

A business in Ayr prepares for Cyclone Yasi.
A business in Ayr prepares for Cyclone Yasi. Casandra Garvey

SINCE 2pm yesterday, the Burdekin State Emergency Services (SES) has delivered 400 sandbags filled with 30 tonnes of sand to residents preparing for Cyclone Yasi's wrath.

Burdekin SES controller Robert Sutcliffe said another 20 tonnes of sand was delivered this morning.

"Aside from delivering sandbags, the teams are just waiting to see what work we have to do after the cyclone hits," Mr Sutcliffe said.

Meanwhile, despite the town of Ingham pre-emptively cutting power and water to residents ahead of the cyclone, Ergon Energy's Mark Biffanti said this wouldn't happen in the Burdekin.

"Systems are still as is, if floodwater comes in (following the cyclone) they'll switch off low-level conductors but ahead of the cyclone we won't," Mr Biffanti said.

"People need to stay inside because trees will be coming down and once they come down on the powerlines it will trip the power and stay off until we can patrol and turn the power back on."

While shops in Ayr yesterday were advertising for back-up generators, there wasn't a sign to be seen this morning.

"All generators have been put on hold - you can't get a generator anywhere so no private enterprises can get them," Mr Biffanti said.

"Apart from all this our teams have just been ready and waiting."

The Ayr Police vehicles are full of petrol and on standby, with no cyclone-related call-outs lodged so far but officers have seen "a dramatic increase" in traffic headed south.

Ayr fire and ambulance crews have seen an increase in calls, with many being redirected to the council call centre, which yesterday fielded 500 calls from concerned residents.

The Lower Burdekin Home for the Aged will most likely evacuate hostel residents later today and monitor the weather conditions for the sake of their other two nursing homes' residents, with the SES on standby to help if required.

All North Queensland schools have been closed today and tomorrow and the local hospital is also prepared, with back-up generators and on standby to evacuate if needed.

Member for the Burdekin Rosemary Menkins attended the Local Disaster Management Group meeting this morning, saying she was in constant contact with her fellow North Queensland and State members.

"All we can do now is wish everyone luck and stay safe," she said.

Ayr's CBD is likely to become a ghost town by midday today, when strong winds are expected to hit the town and intensify throughout the day as Yasi approaches.


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