Cyclone Rusty rams into Western Australia

Feb. 27, 2013 at 8:33 PM
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PARDOO, Australia, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- Little Pardoo, Australia, which took a direct hit from Tropical Cyclone Rusty, was still under a red alert Thursday, the day after landfall, officials said.

The cattle community on Australia's west coast was hit by winds up to 125 mph and was drenched with 10 inches of rain in 6 hours when the storm, once a Category 4 monster, made landfall Wednesday, The West Australian reported.

While the alert was still in place for people from Pardoo to Nullagine, the newspaper said the all-clear had been sounded for Port Hedland and South Hedland.

Rusty was moving on, weakening as it headed southward across Australia, though its wind were still clocked at 80 mph before noon.

It was the second major cyclone to hit the region in a year. Lua was the last one to devastate the area.

"It's been hammering real hard," said Pardoo Roadhouse manager Ian Badger, whose home and workplace were left a "war zone" by Lua.

"I reckon the wind is as strong [as Lua]. Water and wind has got in through some weatherboards and it's popped tiles off in the toilets. There are a lot of trees and limbs and stuff around."

The Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported officials said there were reports of down power lines, flooded roads and gale-force winds, but no reports of injuries or loss of life.

Schools were closed and mines were shut down, with some being evacuated, before Rusty hit.

Weather spokesman Mike Bergin said 7 inches of rain was reported in some places already Wednesday and "we do expect to see heavy rainfall of course as the system moves south."

Department of Fire and Emergency Services spokesman John Franklin told the ABC emergency services had only received a handful of calls to help with "minor damage" in Port Hedland.

"It might have been a caravan that was unstable due to some winds, the roof sheeting may be dislodged, nothing major, and no reports of roofs that had been ripped off or anything of that nature," Franklin said.

South Hedland police Senior Sgt. Ron Patchett said the towns appeared to have sustained only minor damage.

"We were expecting the worst, we were expecting to get smashed, [causing] as much damage as [it was] going to be possible [for] a cyclone to do ... and as a result we're all feeling a bit lucky," Patchett said.

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