FIRST PHOTOS: Hamilton Island ravaged by Cyclone Debbie

CYCLONE Debbie was like "bloody mayhem".

That is the way one Hamilton Island holidaymaker described it.

Mat Garner said: "The roar was so loud, wind was phenomenal, all the windows rattled and shook violently!"

 

Trees have fallen on buildings on Hamilton Island.
Trees have fallen on buildings on Hamilton Island. Jacqui McCullough

 

He and his family were currently still on lockdown in their holiday house in the north eastern corner of the island when News Regional Media spoke to them.  

It was still raining and windy but Mat said the direction of the wind had changed now and from where they were there was "heaps of damage".

"There are houses with roofs ripped off, glass panels smashed, guttering missing, trees uprooted, golf buggies shredded...

"I haven't got down the marina front yet and I have to go check my uncle's house next door once the winds go down a bit."
 

Cyclone Debbie tore off roofs on Hamilton Island.
Cyclone Debbie tore off roofs on Hamilton Island. @jonkclements/Instagram

 

UPDATE: HAMILTON Island has been the first major victim of Cyclone Debbie as it smashes the Queensland coast.

Images of the tourist haven have started to surface on social media after cyclone Debbie tore through the Whitsundays.

WeatherZone reports the island registered a wind gust of 263km/h about 10.40am.

 

Kim Cowley shared this photo of the
Kim Cowley shared this photo of the "roof half off" their house on Hamilton Island. Supplied

At 9am, Debbie was 85km east northeast of Bowen and 60km north of Hamilton Island, where gusts of almost 200km/h have been recorded at the local airport.

Those on the island say the sound of the wind is deafening, and brick buildings built to withstand cyclones are vibrating under the force.

Residents say they have been "stranded" with "literally no advice" on how to deal with Cyclone Debbie as it thunders over them.

While thousands were evacuated on other islands and the mainland, people living and working on the resort island have been told to remain put as winds of 263km/h lashed homes on Tuesday.

Damage on Hamilton Island.
Damage on Hamilton Island.

On Tuesday morning, Lissa Morris, who has lived on Hamilton Island for 14 years, told news.com.au she and her husband were bunkered down in a concrete safe room waiting for Debbie to pass.

"It's frightening, it's right on top of us now, trees are flying through the sky and I can see massive surf at least six foot high that could rival Bondi," she said.

"We've had cyclones before but nothing like this. It is so noisy. It sounds like half a dozen 747 jets coming through."

On Sunday, major airlines ground flights from the resort island's airport. But Mrs Morris said no attempt was made to evacuate those on the island.


"If we had the chance we would have evacuated but we didn't get a chance. We've had literally no advice, everyone is literally stranded, no one can get on or off the island," she said.

"When Yasi came through, and that hit further up north, we were evacuated. But with this one I had a feeling it would come down here and before we had a chance to evacuate, everything was cancelled.

"We're sensible enough to know what to do, but for other people there's panic. Especially the young staff (in the hotels), I think they thought it would be all fun and games - it might be a learning curve."
 

Police staffing triple-zero calls have told of increasingly panicked calls for help.

One caller said the roof was lifting off an apartment building in the Whitsunday region. Another caller from the region is sheltering in the laundry of a home that's roof has caved in.

The Category 4 cyclone is the worst the state has seen in at least six years.  

David, a caller to Nine's Today who is staying on the resort island, said the scenes outside were "like world war three" as he witnessed a fall through the roof of a nearby villa.

"I am standing, actually, on the toilet looking out the tiny little window and villa number 42 has copped it, a massive tree has gone through the side of the roof," he said.

"The winds are insane. I can't imagine it getting any worse than this. All the trees are destroyed. It looks like world war three to be honest outside."

"I've never heard gusts of wind howl this loud and this intense before," a tourist on Hamilton Island said.

 

EARLIER: HAMILTON Island is on high-alert for Tropical Cyclone Debbie as she edges toward the tourism hotspot.

Locals from the Burdekin to Mackay have shared their first-hand vision as they bunker down awaiting Cyclone Debbie this morning.

Footage has been sourced from storm chasers iCyclone in Bowen and a French news service Meteo-Villes in Burden - both showing furious winds throwing around trees.

In Mackay, the Star 101.9 Mackay & Whitsundays have walked the streets this morning at 5am filming the eerily empty roads, flashing traffic lights and sheet rain hitting the city.

In Proserpine, the Whitsundays SES are waiting out the cyclone's approach at their Proserpine shed where rain is recorded moving sideways in all directions.

FOLLOW OUR CYCLONE DEBBIE TOPIC FOR THE LATEST UPDATES

While holiday makers in the Whitsundays - on Hayman and Hamilton Island in the eye of the storm's approach - are filming from their balconies as wind and rain hammer their resorts.

SPECIAL COVERAGE:

Recent significant wind gust observations include:

- 232 km/h at Hamilton Island airport at 9:30 am.

- 122 km/h at Proserpine Airport 9:41 am

- 107 km/h at Bowen Airport at 8:55 am

Hamilton Island's Facebook page posted an update earlier saying: "Tropical Cyclone Debbie is crossing the Whitsunday Islands right now. 

"The Island's management can confirm we have had no reports of injury, we have power and telephone communications. Some guests are experiencing difficulty with the Optus network.

"Our Emergency Control Centre team are continuing to monitor conditions and are doing all that they can to ensure guests, residents and staff on the Island are safe and as comfortable as possible during this time."

Tourists were being urged to "remain inside your accommodation until advised it is safe to leave".

"Based on the current forecast this could be as late as tomorrow afternoon."

In a latter update, the resort said: The wind conditions should begin to steadily reduce over the next 4 hours however may re-intensify once the eye of the storm has passed. Your safety is paramount to us at this time. Please remain indoors. "

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