Jaxon Andrews, 11, of Cairns.
Jaxon Andrews, 11, tends to a drenched white cockatoo as Cairns cleans up from Cyclone Jasper. Image by Brian Cassey/AAP PHOTOS
  • weather

Jasper loses sting but floods and wind wreak havoc

Laine Clark December 14, 2023

The aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Jasper may be felt for days with flooding the greatest concern for far north Queensland residents.

The cyclone threat is over for now after Jasper was downgraded to a tropical low.

But Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles issued a warning on Thursday that “we’re not out of the woods yet”.

People left in Cyclone Jasper’s destructive path are still being hit by heavy rain and bracing for damaging winds up to 90km/h.

Cyclone Jasper hit the coast as a category 2 storm near Wujal Wujal, north of Cairns, about 8pm AEST on Wednesday.

It produced winds of 115km/h and heavy rain, with almost half a metre recorded across far north Queensland in a 24-hour period.

The system has weakened as it slowly heads inland but is a moderate chance of re-intensifying into a tropical cyclone when it reaches the Gulf of Carpentaria at the weekend.

It appears there is no relief in sight with severe weather warnings for large parts of the north tropical coast and tablelands as well as the peninsula and gulf country.

Rain bringing 150 to 200mm are expected in the region with isolated falls of up to 400mm.

Flooding in Cairns.
 Cairns is being hit by flooding after Cyclone Jasper made landfall. Image by Brian Cassey/AAP PHOTOS 

“And that’s on top of the rain that has already fallen,” a Bureau of Meteorology spokesperson told AAP.

“It’s not over yet. Even though it has been downgraded to an ex-tropical cyclone it is still expected to produce significant community impacts.”

There are major flooding warnings for the Daintree, Barron and Mossman rivers.

People have been told to avoid floodwaters and stay inside as emergency services clean up, with crocodiles and snakes adding to the potential danger.

“We expect crocodiles in the cyclone-affected area to be on the move as they search for a quieter place to wait until the floodwaters to recede,” Department of Environment and Science’s Lindsay Delzoppo said.

“Several years ago, a large crocodile found refuge on someone’s backyard during a flood event.

“Snakes are really good swimmers … they may appear in unexpected places.”

People were forced to flee their homes when the cyclone hit, upending trees, causing flash flooding and knocking down power lines.

At one stage more than 43,000 homes and businesses were without power.

More than 500 energy crew staff have seen sent north to assist.

A dozen people and a dog had to be rescued at Mossman early on Thursday with more than 100 people arriving at evacuation centres.

Workers remove a fallen tree from Muddy’s Playground in Cairns.
 Trees were uprooted and power lines damaged after the cyclone crossed the coast. Image by Brian Cassey/AAP PHOTOS 

There are multiple road closures and some traffic lights affected by outages.

Cairns and surrounding areas copped the brunt of the cyclone with 25,000 homes and businesses without power at one stage amid reports of looting.

The Cairns airport has reopened and the hospital is back to full service.

But Cairns locals are expected to conserve drinking water for the rest of the week as authorities work to remove debris from a treatment plant.

“Trees down, power out – we are used to that,” Cairns mayor Terry James said.

Coles said additional deliveries were on their way to far north Queensland stores.

Damage from cyclone Jasper.
 Strong winds brought down trees as Jasper crossed the coast. Image by HANDOUT/MYPOLICE GREATER CAIRNS 

State-federal government disaster recovery funding has been made available for Cairns, Cook, Douglas, Yarrabah and Wujal Wujal regional councils.

Douglas and Wujal Wujal council residents can access personal hardship assistance totalling $180 for individuals and up to $900 for families.

Uninsured residents may be able to access up to $5,000 to reconnect damaged services.