Dazed town shaken for 12 hours by Cyclone Debbie

BOWEN residents will wake up anxious to assess the damage of Cyclone Debbie today after the powerful system left the town shaking for more than 12 hours.

The Category 4 system made landfall shortly after noon following more than 10 hours of heavy rain.

Winds of more than 150km/h snapped tree trunks in half while others were ripped from their roots.

The winds intensified rapidly from about 8am as the northern end of Cyclone Debbie passed over Bowen.


No one could be seen during the storm as residents hunkered down in hope that their roofs would not be torn off.

Small debris, including signs and branches, were carried with the wind while about 280mm of rain was dumped in the space of 24 hours.

Bowen resident Daniel Halpin watches the final stage of Cyclone Debbie from his veranda. Picture: Evan Morgan
Bowen resident Daniel Halpin watches the final stage of Cyclone Debbie from his veranda. Picture: Evan Morgan

Father and son Daniel and John Halpin, who have lived in their Bowen home for more than three decades, said they were grateful that their home had suffered little damage.

"It was pretty good here, there's some damage to the trees out the back," Daniel said.

"There's a lot of fences down - all the new estates have six foot (182cm) fences that went down."

Daniel said the power went out about 10am yesterday.

"The cyclone was worst in the morning," he said.

"It probably started between 9.30am and 10am and was real hectic for two to three hours."

John said Cyclone Debbie was a different system to what they had experienced before.

"This was by far the worst one," he said.

"We'd experienced a category two and three but nothing like this."

Chris Gellatly, who lives about 2km south west of town, said he would be assessing the damage today.

"We have some work sites in town so it will be interesting to see if they've blown away," he said.

"It is one of the more interesting cyclones we've experienced."

Mr Gellatly, who lives in a shed that's been converted into a house with his family, said the property had "copped it fairly heavily".

"We're in the wide open out here, we'll get out and about tomorrow," he said.

"We've lost fences, trees and power - it got pretty strong.

"We've been through a few others but they were all pretty mild compared to this one."

He expected significant damage to the town.

"'I've only been for a drive about half a kilometre down the road each way," he said.

"There's no point stressing about it, whatever happens, happens.

"There's nothing you can do until it all blows away."

Mr Gellatly said it was difficult to tell how much rain he had received.

"I'd say we've had a good 10 to 12 inches," he said.

"It's was raining all day long.

"It's hard to tell because it was coming in horizontally, not vertically."

Topics:  bowen cyclone debbie north queensland

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