Mackay has been battered by cyclone Debbie’s rain and wind gusts but the north Queensland town appears to have escaped being inundated by a tidal storm surge.
The Bureau of Meteorology indicated Category 4 Cyclone Debbie made landfall on the north Queensland coast around 1pm on Tuesday.
More than 20,000 people were evacuated from the Mackay region on Monday amid fears the cyclone would flood low-lying areas with its storm surge set to come in on a predicted 3m high tide.
The storm’s landfall came almost three hours after high tide in Mackay and local councillor Laurence Bonaventura said it appeared the city had avoided any serious flooding.
“No inundation of houses, in that respect, that we know of,” Cr Bonaventura told AAP.
“None that we know of from tidal surge anyway.
“Drainage is swollen but coping in most areas.”
Cr Bonaventura said rainfall in the Mackay region had been heavy but not constant, coming in squalls which gave drains a chance to clear between falls.
Another Mackay councillor, former Queensland State of Origin rugby league player Martin Bella, said waiting for the storm to arrive had been difficult for residents.
“We’re pretty good at the moment, to be honest it’s just so bloody tedious because the damn thing is just so slow moving,” Cr Bella told AAP.
Social media footage of Sarina Beach, south of Mackay, shows the beach and adjacent road covered in sea foam whipped up by the churning waters.
Cr Bella said the biggest risk to the region would probably be fallen trees or trees at risk of toppling due to saturated ground.
Local resident Felicity Mackintosh told AAP trees and falling branches were her main concern.
“Trees are going to fall over because everything’s waterlogged,” she said.
The BoM is forecasting between 300-400mm of rain to fall across the Mackay region on Tuesday with possibly another 400mm forecast for Wednesday.
Ergon Energy says around 34,000 customers have lost power mainly in the communities of Airlie Beach, Cannonvale, Proserpine, Bowen, Mackay and the northern beaches of Mackay.
Hundreds of workers are on standby to restore power but won’t begin their work until conditions are safe enough to do so.