It was bad but it could have been much worse.
Australians are breathing a sigh of relief after one of the world’s most powerful cyclones spared the northeast coast from expected devastation.
Cyclone Yasi tore off roofs, toppled power lines and terrified tens of thousands of people. It hit banana and sugar cane crops in Queensland but missed heavily populated areas. No deaths were reported.
Rated a top-strength category five storm, it was later downgraded to category one status as it moved inland. But Yasi still packed a punch.
“This one is the biggest I have ever seen this time,” said Robert Hurst, 84, assessing the damage to his property. “And I have seen plenty because I have worked in the Gulf for 40 years. You know, all I have got to do is just carry on.”
Early evacuations and days of cyclone preparation helped reduce the impact of Australia’s second big natural disaster in as many months.
But Yasi’s winds of up to 300 kilometres per hour left a trail of destruction. It also brought heavy rains to areas still struggling to recover from recent devastating floods.