LIVE FROM INSIDE INNISFAIL
Resident Des calls Channel Seven live on air from inside Innisfail :
(rush transcript) - "Terrifying...total destruction...roof is gone, standing in water up to my ankles at the moment...in a church...I'm on my own...a tree has just fallen on a house....streetlight touching the ground....the destruction is frightening....we've been through the eye....but it's just come back with a vengeance....it is just full on...this is scary stuff....I hate to see what the destruction is going to be when it's finished....you can't see much, it's that blowey...all you can see is a grey sheet of water horizontal to the ground and it's taking everything in its path....everything....it's the worst we've ever seen....to be in it....nothing gives me the willies, I don't get scared much, but this enough to scare any man..."
Queensland Premier Peter Beattie was just on Channel Seven. He said homes have been flattened, "an enormous amount of damage has been done. The initial winds softened up the town if you like....then the winds came again and picked up the various things that were loosened...sheets of tin...and then threw them at the other buildings...At this stage it looks like Innisfail has been pounded very badly. Part of the problem in Innisfail is that the local radio station has gone down...We'll be sending in assistance...rescue teams...."
Beattie : "It's too late in terms of evacuation....it's too late now...What they have to do is simply batten down, wait until the cyclone passes and we'll provide assistance when that is done."
Warns locals to stay inside until rescue teams arrive, sheets are tin are flying around, deadly. Beattie said two to three hours to get rescue teams in.
Black Hawk helicopters close by, Beattie talked to PM Howard about having the military helicopters deployed as soon as they're able to go. "Everyone is ready to move in....but we have to wait until the wind abates."
Beattie then said, "The armed services are at our disposals. Large (military) base in Townsville will be of help, they will (go in as soon as possible)."
An appeal to help those affected by the storm will launched later today.
SUMMARY : Cyclonic winds are hammering Innisfail, houses have been flattened, buildings destroyed, air filled with wreckage and flying sheets of tin.
Prime Minister John Howard has told QLD Premier Peter Beattie the military will be available for deployment into the disaster zones as soon as it is safe to do so.
Massive rescue and recovery work is expected to be needed in and around Innisfail, and towns in the district.
Cairns is now experiencing gale force winds, no signs of major damage as of this moment, but the winds are clearly strong and moving debris about.