A powerful tropical cyclone has torn through tourist towns, forcing people to cower in unusual places to stay safe.
A fierce tropical cyclone that brought wind gusts of up to 170km/h has torn through tourist towns in Western Australia, ripping roofs off buildings and forcing residents to cower in cupboards to stay safe.
Tropical Cyclone Seroja made landfall on Sunday evening, just south of Kalbarri, as a category 3 storm.
It then weakened to a category 2 as it travelled across land. It is now an ex-tropical cyclone.
Many locals took to social media to reveal their makeshift shelters as the terrifying eye of the storm approached.
One person said they were hiding in a walk-in wardrobe, while a couple and their dog took refuge in a pantry.
Some homes were completely decimated.
Wild weather also tore part of the roof off the popular dolphin-watching holiday resort Monkey Mia, while strong winds and high tides destroyed part of the One Mile Jetty at Carnavon.
Northampton Shire president Craig Simkin told NCA NewsWire that he estimated up to 75 per cent of homes in Kalbarri had some structural damage.
“I’ve had a bit of a drive around,” he said on Monday.
“It’s wreaked a bit of havoc. There’s debris everywhere.”
Deputy president Shane Krakouer, who is also an electrician, said it was the first time he had experienced such devastation.
“It was one-and-a-half hours (of fierce storms) … some houses are totally destroyed,” he told NCA NewsWire.
Mr Krakouer said it looked like a bomb had gone off in the town.
“Everywhere you stop and look all you see is destruction — roofs rolled up on the street,” he said.
“The whole town needs rebuilding around here … it’s going to take a long time.”
Mr Krakouer said cafes had been flooded and even the local police station was “not looking too good”.
About 31,500 customers are without power, including in Geraldton, Kalbarri, Northampton, Dongara, Port Denison and Mullewa.
A red alert remains in place for the towns of Kalbarri and Northampton in the Midwest Gascoyne.
“There is still a threat to lives and homes,” the Department of Fire and Emergency Services warned.
“DFES is conducting assessments on the ground to identify hazards to ensure the safety of the community.”
The all clear has been given to other areas, but DFES warns people should remain cautious.
Those areas are south of Carnarvon to Lancelin.
It is the first time Geraldton has experienced a category 2 cyclone since 1956.
Emergency services have answered more than 180 calls for help, with most coming from Kalbarri.
“The number of calls for help are likely to increase as the cyclone passes through,” DFES said.
Western Power says 65 power feeders have been affected north of Three Springs as well as the distribution network across the Mid West region.
“Power cannot be restored until crews have inspected the lines, which will only be safe after the red alert has been lifted by DFES and conditions permit it,” Western Power said on Monday.
“We’re expecting reports of damage to increase as the day unfolds and will continue reassessing and prioritising restoration work as it becomes safe to so.
“Helicopter patrols will commence once conditions are safe which will help identify and prioritise fault areas.
“Our top priority will be to make hazards safe, then restore power as quickly as possible.”
Landline phones and mobile networks have also been disrupted due to damage.
Evacuation centres have been set up at the Irwin Recreation Centre in Port Denison, the Carnarvon Civic Centre in Carnarvon, and Shark Bay Recreation Centre in Denham.
Many roads remain closed, and people are being urged not to drive through flood waters.
Ex-tropical cyclone Seroja has now weakened into a tropical low, but the Bureau of Meteorology says there are still wind gusts of 95 km/h.
It is moving rapidly in a southeast direction towards the Esperance coast at 60 km/h and is expected to move offshore by the afternoon.
“Ex-Seroja is no longer producing sustained gales; however, periods of heavy rain and damaging wind gusts are still possible to the east of the track as it moves towards the Esperance coast,” the bureau warned.
“Abnormally high tides could still cause minor flooding at the coast between Cape Cuvier and Jurien Bay. The threat of serious flooding has passed.”
Originally, the cyclone event off the West Australian coast threatened to produce two systems.
Odette, which was initially a tropical low, formed into a tropical cyclone after the two systems circled each other over the Indian Ocean on Thursday.
It is known as the Fujiwhara effect.
Odette was downgraded to an ex-tropical cyclone on Saturday.