News State Western Australia News Clean-up begins after Cyclone Christine onslaught

Clean-up begins after Cyclone Christine onslaught

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· Cyclone Christine smashes Pilbara

Destruction caused by Tropical Cyclone Christine in Western Australia’s Pilbara region appears to be largely limited to superficial damage to trees and fences and minor roof leaks.

Christine crossed the coast between Whim Creek and Roebourne at about midnight (WST) on Monday as a category-three cyclone, but has since been downgraded to category two as the system weakens and tracks southeast.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) estimated at 11am (WST) that the cyclone was 220km south of Karratha and 75km northwest of Paraburdoo, and moving south at 20km/h.

Roebourne councillor Robin Vandenberg said many trees had fallen but there was no significant structural damage.

“The red alert has just gone off so we are getting out now to look at the damage, but looking at the area around us from the front yard, it’s all just superficial damage,” he told AAP on Tuesday.

Mr Vandenberg said on a scale of one to 10, he would rate the cyclone as a seven in severity.

“It’s not the worst I’ve experienced, but it’s not at the low end either,” he said.

Gales with gusts to 120km/h are occurring between De Grey and Mardie and will extend to the inland Pilbara.People on the coast between De Grey and Wickham including Port Hedland are warned of the potential for a very dangerous storm tide.

Mr Vandenberg has lived in his house for 30 years and said the older buildings had stood the test of time against cyclones, while some of the newer buildings had suffered leaks.

“We have a big patio at the front and back and there were some roars because of the tin but nothing came off,” he said.

A red alert remains in place for people in or near Tom Price and Paraburdoo, where residents have been warned to stay indoors and away from doors and windows.

Relocation points have been set up at the Tom Price High School gym and Ashburton Hall in Paraburdoo.

A yellow alert is current for people in or near the inland community of Pannawonica.

A blue alert is current for people in or near the inland communities of Newman, Collier Ranges and Three Rivers.

The all-clear has been given for people between De Grey and Mardie, including Marble Bar, Port Hedland, South Hedland, Whim Creek, Roebourne, Wickham, Point Samson, Karratha and Dampier.

Those residents have been warned to take caution when heading outside due to fallen debris.

Destructive winds with gusts in excess of 130km/h are still expected near the cyclone centre and flood warnings have been issued, BoM said.

Australia’s biggest iron ore miners – Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals Group – are assessing the impact of the cyclone on port, rail and mine operations, and ship loading is expected to remain suspended for some time.

A Rio Tinto spokesman said the company’s coastal and West Pilbara operations remained closed.

“We are still fully assessing the impact at this stage,” he said.

State Emergency Services (SES) volunteers have had more than 40 calls related to roof damage, broken fences, fallen trees and flooding.

Horizon Power says about 7000 homes are without electricity in Roebourne, Karratha and Point Samson.

More than 25 customers are also without power in the Port Hedland area, and there are damaged transmission lines in Karratha, Roebourne and Port Hedland.