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Shoppers again may be forced to fork out up to $13 a kilo for bananas thanks to Cyclone Yasi.

There are early predictions more than 90 per cent of Australia's banana crop was wiped out as Yasi blew through north Queensland overnight.

It will almost certainly impact on prices, National Farmers Federation president Jock Laurie said.

"It did then, and I can't see any reason why it wouldn't now," he told AAP today.

Mr Laurie estimates banana production won't get back up for another 12 to 18 months, although he conceded assessments of damage would get clearer over the next two days.

The sugar industry is also counting the cost of the disaster, with suggestions crop losses of up to half a billion dollars.

It is likely to have an impact on production right through 2011, although Mr Laurie said sugar prices should remain stable.

The horticulture, meat and dairy industries were also likely to feel an impact.

Townships worst hit

North Queensland's small coastal communities appear to have borne the brunt of Cyclone Yasi's fury, while the region's major cities of Cairns and Townsville escaped relatively unscathed.

The town of Tully is emerging as the one of the worst hit, with reports that no trees have been left standing and 90 per cent of the main street is extensively damaged.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh expressed relief this morning that the cyclone - a category five when it hit about midnight AEST - had not claimed any lives, nor caused any serious injury.

"At this stage there are no reports of any serious injuries or fatalities and that's a great relief to me this morning," she told the Nine Network.

However she warned some areas had not yet been assessed and it was too early to talk about "dodging bullets".

This afternoon (NZT) Ms Bligh said the hardest hit towns were Tully, Silkwood, Mission Beach, Cardwell and Innisfail - where power poles had been snapped in half.

"In Tully, for example, the early estimate is that one in three houses has either lost its roof or been completely demolished, and more than 20 per cent of businesses in the main are significantly impacted," she said.

The seaside township of Cardwell, which was completely evacuated on Wednesday, had sustained "significant devastation", Ms Bligh said.

Emergency crews had only recently cut their way into Cardwell, Ms Bligh said.

'Trees like matchsticks'

Yasi made landfall at Mission Beach about midnight (AEST) when it was still a category five tropical cyclone.

The manager of the Elandra Resort David Brook said the area now looked like "Vietnam (in the war movie) Apocalypse Now".

Trees are down, cars have been swept away, roofs have been torn off and the sand on the beach is gone.

"Nothing's been spared. The devastation is phenomenal, like nothing I've ever experienced," the veteran of at least five cyclones told the ABC.

Photographer Brad Ambrose, who witnessed the cyclone from his resort in the town, said the cyclone's winds were more intense than anything he had felt before.

"The only thing I can compare it to is standing on the wing of a 747 while it is going 600km/h. There's an undulating roar. Your ears are popping.

"I've never experienced anything like it."

The environment around his resort had been all but destroyed by the storm, he said.

"I'm just looking at it now through the broken windows of my rental car.

"The trees are like matchsticks. The driveway is completely covered in branches. The bush we drove through to get here has been completely defoliated."

Police who bunkered down in the Mission Beach police station said they didn't know how bad the damage was, as it was still too dangerous for a proper look around.

But officer in charge Sergeant Dan Gallagher said trees had been reduced to sticks, streets were littered with debris, and some buildings had been damaged.

"... I'm expecting extensive damage," he said.

Street 'ripped apart'

Ms Bligh said the first assessment of the town of Tully, home to 3,500 residents, had 90 per cent of the main street "extensively damaged".

Linda Timms, a reporter with the Tully Times, told ABC Radio she now has a clear view of Mt Mackay, which was previously obstructed by trees.

"There are trees down everywhere," she said, agreeing it was not an exaggeration to say there was not a tree standing in Tully.

Tully resident Stephanie Grimaz said houses in her street had been ripped apart.

"The flat from across the street is in our front yard and we can see other houses which have just been destroyed," she told AAP.

"There are sheets of iron everywhere, the streets are just full of debris."

Red Cross worker Noelene Byrne decided to move the evacuation centre from Tully's senior citizens hall on Wednesday night because she feared the 10 people there would not be safe.

"I'm now in front of the senior citizens and it's one mangled heap," she told ABC Radio on Thursday morning.

"Had I left people there, there would have been loss of life.

"The destruction there is just heartbreaking.

"It's just the front wall of the hall that's standing, the rest is just one big scrap heap."

Veteran Cardwell Shire Councillor and former Mayor Joe Galeano lost 70 per cent of his 12,000 tonne cane crop and the guttering from his house in the howling winds of Cyclone Yasi.

He endured four hours of those winds sheltering in a shed, waiting near a tied up boat in case flood waters arrived.

The cyclone was the worst he'd experienced in 72 years at Lower Tully - 15km from the Tully township, he said.

"The only way to describe the wind is - it's like a monster trying to get at you.

"I've been through a lot of cyclones but this was the worst I've ever seen. It was howling. It was worse than Cyclone Larry by miles. I don't know what someone who had never experienced anything like it would have done."

Noise 'the worst thing'

A spokeswoman for the Cassowary Coast disaster coordination service said Tully residents had reported roofs off on coastal homes, broken windows, fallen trees and foliage stripped from the landscape.

One family had to wait out the storm under a vehicle after their garage roller door was blown off by the cyclone.

"They're just lucky they had that vehicle to shelter behind.

"It seems the noise of the wind was the worst thing. It was just frightening at 12am, hearing things and not knowing what was being damaged."

The damage would have been worse had a predicted storm surge reached its expected heights, she said.

News Limited photographer John Wilson called ABC Radio from a hotel in Tully.

Mr Wilson said the hotel building had been built to withstand category 5 cyclones, but the walls were shaking as the cyclone hit.

"It sounded a lot like a jet engine - it was almost unbearable, the noise," he said.

"You could hear the sound of the trees being shredded and the occasional snap."

The eye of the cyclone passed directly over the town.

"It went absolutely quiet - the stars were shining, there was a symphony of frogs crocking ... then about 45 minutes later the maelstrom came back," Mr Wilson said.

'Like napalm'

At Innisfail, which was devastated by Cyclone Larry in 2006, Cassowary councillor Bill Horsford said daylight had revealed a devastated landscape.

"It's just like the place has been sprayed with napalm, there's hardly a green leaf around, all of the beautiful mountains are now brown," he told the ABC.

"The cane crops are going to be devastated, it's just going to be devastation all round and all I can hope for is that there has been no loss of life or serious injury."

Major General Peter Cosgrove, who led the recovery effort after Cyclone Larry, said the main priority must be counting heads.

"It's particularly important in rural communities where you have farmers that are isolated. Emergency workers have to make sure people are safe," he told the Nine Network.

The premier said a major logistical task was now looming, initially to free up evacuation centres for people whose homes had been hit, and then to rehouse those people.

"We don't know the extent of it yet, but we are planning for a very significant homelessness problem, for potentially, you know, several thousand people," she said.

Cairns escapes worst

Cyclone Yasi has left Cairns relatively unscathed and the city will be open for business "very soon", the city's mayor says.

"The CBD and our beautiful esplanade in Cairns is unscathed," Mayor Val Schier said on Thursday morning.

"The main concern at the moment is we're waiting for the electricity authority to let us know the all clear because we don't want people coming into contact with live power lines.

"We lost power in some suburbs from very early on - from 7 o'clock in the evening - so the majority of Cairns is without power."

She said there had been no major reports of structural damage.

"We'll be out cleaning the streets and getting rid of the debris and giving people the all clear to go home," she said.

Forecast

Tropical Cyclone Yasi was downgraded to a category 2 at 7am AEST (10am NZT), with the wind gusts at the core in excess of 125km/h as it moves in west-southwesterly inland.

Australia's Bureau of Meteorology said Yasi was south east of Georgetown and continuing to weaken.

Senior forecaster Brett Harrison told ABC Radio the cyclone was likely to remain a category 2 until 1pm, and expected to become a tropical low by the time it reached the city of Mt Isa early tomorrow morning EST.

Damaging winds, with gusts above 90 km/hr, are occurring along the coast and extend inland to Georgetown and Hughenden, the bureau said. They will extend further west towards Richmond and Julia Creek during the day.

Higher than normal tides and large waves are expected to continue between Port Douglas and Ayr and sea levels may again exceed the high water mark on the morning high tide, around 9.30am AEST (12.30 NZT)

"We are still expecting some rises around high tide, certainly a lot less than we saw last night but there still is a danger," Mr Harrison said.

The bureau is forecasting flood rains will continue along the coast and ranges, with heavy rains extending across the adjacent inland, and flood warnings remains in place for a number of rivers between Cairns and Mackay.

- AAP, AP, NZ HERALD STAFF