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700 stranded as cyclone wreaks havoc

Satellite images of cyclone damage. Picture Arriki Aboriginal Corporation.jpg
Cyclone Megan ripped through the Northern Territory overnight with hundreds unable to evacuate. Picture: Facebook

Hundreds of people are stranded in a remote Northern Territory town after Tropical Cyclone Megan tore through the region.

The category 3 storm made landfall off the coat about 3.30pm on Monday, bringing with it powerful wind gusts at up to 170km/h and a massive downpour of rain.

About 700 residents of the small town of Borroloola were forced to bunker down during the worst of the weather after evacuation flights had to be suspended when they were not able to land safely.

Local Taku Cooper said residents were “doing our best to stay dry and optimistic” after the planes were cancelled.

Cyclone Megan will bring 200kmh winds at its destructive core. Picture WeatherZone 4.JPG
Cyclone Megan hit the Northern Territory on Monday afternoon. Picture: Weatherzone

“It’s cold. It’s wet. It’s windy but we are Borroloola and this is what we do,” she said in a post to Facebook about 5pm.

NT Chief Minister Eva Lawler directed people to find room inside the police station, health centre and the dozens of cyclone graded homes in the community to ride out the storm.

“There are enough buildings in Borroloola that are rated to withstand a category 3 cyclone to keep the community safe,” she said.

Satellite images of cyclone damage. Picture Arriki Aboriginal Corporation.jpg
Cyclone damage on Groote Eylandt. Picture: Arriki Aboriginal Corporation

“The ADF will land at Borroloola when safe to do so.”

The destructive core of the cyclone, carrying the most dangerous winds gusts, skirted away from the township, sparing them the worst of the weather.

Borroloola local and King Ash Bay Fishing Club president Ash Garner told the ABC that it was “good news” given so many people were unable to evacuate.

“Unfortunately, the government left it way too long, it should have really been done yesterday is the sentiment on the ground here,” he said.

Cyclone Megan will bring 200kmh winds at its destructive core. Picture WeatherZone 4.JPG
Cyclone Megan has been downgraded to a category 1 and will track west. Picture: Weatherzone

“All the local police, clinic staff, council staff, did an excellent job looking after everyone and keeping them safe.”

The town is still recovering from damage to local roads after Cyclone Lincoln swept through the region a few weeks ago, with locals bracing for significant flooding.

Megan is the fifth cyclone to hit the north of the country this season.

The storm quickly downgraded to a category 1 cyclone and is expected to continue weakening into a tropical low throughout Tuesday morning as it tracks west.

Earlier, photographs shared by residents on Groote Eylandt showed the extent of the destruction.

They show trees ripped from the ground as well as yards and roads flooded following almost half of the average annual rainfall falling over the weekend.

The rain gauge at Groote Eylandt airport recorded 431mm of rainfall in the 24 hours to 9am on Sunday, making it the region’s second wettest day in 103 years of records.

It brings the total rainfall to 680.4mm in just 48 hours, more than half of the average annual rainfall of 1275.2mm.