7 Feb 2011

Outsiders kept away from cyclone towns

9:57 am on 7 February 2011

Tully Heads and Hull Heads in far north Queensland, are closed to the public in the wake of Cyclone Yasi.

Many houses in the communities are completely destroyed and police say the people there want privacy while they start the clean-up.

The ABC reports only residents with wrist bands are allowed into the small seaside towns.

Police are also asking sightseers to stay away.

Inspector Cheryl Scanlon, who has been based in Ingham since the cyclone hit, says they are trying to protect residents who are getting upset.

"They don't need added pressure of catering for other people at the moment, they are coming back onto their feet and we'd ask people to be conscious of that," she said.

40% condemned

More than 40% of homes at Tully are expected to be condemned because of cyclone damage.

Emergency Management Queensland controller Scott Mahaffey says 95% of homes there have some sort of damage.

SES volunteers from New South Wales have arrived in Tully and will begin helping on Monday in the town and surrounding areas like Silkwood, Tully Heads and Mission Beach.

The Defence Force presence in areas affected by Cyclone Yasi grew on Sunday with 640 soldiers arriving in Cardwell and Tully.

A further 300 troops are working alongside emergency services workers in Townsville.

Brigadier Stuart Smith says many more personnel can be called in to help.

"In all, there about 4000 troops who are ready to assist if need be," he said.

Brigadier Smith said the RAAF flew about 59 tonnes of essential supplies to Cairns on Sunday and there will be more flights on Monday.

The Navy is also transporting heavy machinery to north Queensland.

Bruce Highway open again

The Bruce Highway is open again between Townsville and Cairns in Queensland, allowing the destruction of Cyclone Yasi to be seen for the first time.

Shops are reopening along the Cassowary Coast to allow residents to buy food again.

The ABC reports Ergon Energy has restored power to thousands of homes in the past 24 hours, but 67,000 properties are still waiting for supply. Nearly all of Cairns is back online.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh says the full extent of Tropical Cyclone Yasi's impact is becoming clearer, five days after the disaster.

Ms Bligh says a preliminary assessment of the cyclone zone shows 854 buildings have been damaged, 340 substantially, with 23 of them condemned.

The ABC reports progress is also being made reconnecting essential services - 99% of Townsville now has water supplies and Ingham is back online as well.