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Tropical Cyclone Ita: Category-one storm loses steam as it moves further out to sea

Monday April 14, 2014 - 12:16 EST

Much of the danger associated with Tropical Cyclone Ita has now passed, but wild weather is expected to continue over parts of the Queensland coast.

The category one system is around 195 kilometres north-east of Yeppoon, moving east south-east at 23 kilometres per hour.

The weather bureau says heavy rain has eased on the central coast and conditions are expected to improve as the cyclone moves further offshore.



But the weather bureau says communities from Sarina to Yeppoon are still feeling its force.

"Due to still reporting gale-force winds about the islands in the Coral Sea around the central coast, because of that we've kept onto the category-one strength," spokesman Brett Harrison said.

"We do expect it to be downgraded into a tropical low later on today into the evening."



Mr Harrison says there is a slim chance the system, which , could rebuild.

"Over the ocean it can gain in strength having the warm ocean as its fuel, but at the same time we are expecting it to [be] a less favourable environment," he said.

In the far north, the full extent of the damage is still being assessed.

Premier Campbell Newman will today continue inspecting the aftermath in Ingham, where the township has been cut off by floodwaters and motorists are stranded on the Bruce Highway.

"At this stage it's unclear as to the full extent of that flooding, but I do intend to go to Ingham to see firsthand what has gone on and to see what assistance we can provide," he said.

Floodwaters are receding in some parts of Ingham as well as Townsville and the Burdekin region.

Mr Newman spent yesterday touring the affected areas of Cooktown and Hope Vale.

A banana plantation in Hope Vale that employed dozens of Indigenous locals was destroyed.

Mr Newman said it was a major setback for the area.

"I'm really sad for people who've worked so hard and I visited this a year ago and actually planted one myself," he said.

He said Cooktown faces the biggest recovery effort.

"Roughly 50 buildings have been affected ... five have been written off and there is probably five quite severely damaged, the rest is more minor damage," he said.

The town's water supply is low and may be unsafe to drink.

Authorities say power and telecommunications are being progressively restored in the regions.

State Emergency Services responded to more than 500 calls for help since Friday from people needing help with sandbagging, leaky and damaged rooves, fallen trees and powerlines.

Tourism operators hopeful reef escaped major damage

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has formed an incident response team to assess the damage from Ita.

Local tourism operator Tony Baker says he believes it will be minimal, saying the reef dodged a bullet when Ita weakened on Saturday.

"The inner reefs, you'll see the water will be less clear because of the flow off from the various rivers and creeks," Mr Baker said.

"Once we get out to the outer reef areas, we're very hopeful that there was very minimal damage from the actual cyclone.

"The cyclone went by us just inland. Our indicators were that the wind wasn't as strong right out on the outer edge of the reef."

Operators of the Lizard Island tourist resort say it appears to have been spared any serious damage.

"Many of our beautiful palm trees unfortunately have been uprooted," spokeswoman Jill Collins said.

"Even our main lodge area, our restaurant area, [and] our main welcome area look like they have come through it OK, just with a bit of shattered glass so we are very very thankful for that."


- ABC

© ABC 2014

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