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More floods in Australia as cyclone damage tallied
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 06 - 02 - 2011

TULLY HEADS, Australia: The cyclone that tore through Australia's northeast this week brought fresh misery to people in the south Saturday, causing flash flooding in the second-largest city even as residents in far distant towns returned to ruined homes.
The tropical system that was Cyclone Yasi, which tore through the northeast earlier this week, was still churning over central Australia and making a series of thunderstorms over the southern city of Melbourne and other large towns in Victoria state much worse, the Bureau of Meteorology said.
More than 7 inches of rain fell in just a few hours overnight Friday in some Melbourne neighborhoods and winds gusting to 80 mph knocked down trees, the Bureau of Meteorology said.
Drains were overwhelmed, causing flash flooding that covered streets and swamped some homes. The State Emergency Service said 84 people were rescued from cars that stalled in flooded streets, or from inundated properties.
A 26-year-old English tourist was in critical condition in hospital after a branch fell on her tent, SES spokesman David Tucek said.
Many parts of Australia have suffered a summer of awful weather, including pounding rains across northeastern Queensland state that caused the nation's worst flooding in decades, killing 35 people and causing an estimated $5.6 billion damage.
Yasi ripped across the coast in northeast Queensland state Wednesday night, tearing apart dozens of homes and damaging hundreds more, cutting power to tens of thousands of people and flattening millions of dollars worth of crops. Just one death was reported. Police and army personnel moved through the storm-savaged coastal town of Tully Heads Saturday, going door-to-door accounting for residents.
Officials spray painted “No Go” as a warning on the worst-hit homes. A few houses were reduced to rubble. A layer of brown sludge covered the ground, leaving a sickening smell wafting throughout the community. The massive surge of water ripped through homes, taking out walls and pushing resident's belongings into other people's houses and yards. Residents spent Saturday sifting through the wreckage and dragging people's possessions back to their owners.
Officials were amazed the death toll was not higher. The storm thrashed the coast with up to 170 mph winds and sent waves crashing ashore two blocks into seaside communities, as tens of thousands of people huddled in evacuation centers.
Electricity and phone service were gradually being restored, and some 4,000 troops were marshaled to help clear roads of downed trees, power lines and twisted metal roofs torn from homes. Efforts were hampered by drenching rain in many parts of the disaster zone.


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