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Cyclone Ita Ravages Queensland Crops April 18, 2014
CIMSS Satellite Loop
Cyclone Ita can be seen making landfall Saturday morning near Cooktown, Queensland.
Australia’s northern Queensland coast was lashed by powerful Cyclone Ita, which was the strongest storm to strike the region in three years.

The cyclone made landfall as a Category-4 storm on the international Saffir-Simpson scale very near Cooktown.

“I've never been so scared in my life,” Hope Vale Mayor Greg McLean told the Australian Associated Press.

The aboriginal community is located just west of where the storm roared ashore with sustained winds of more than 130 mph.

“I thought the wind was going to pick up the ute (utility vehicle) and smash it into the house,” McLean added.

Officials estimate Ita inflicted more than $1 billion in damage, including the destruction of a banana plantation and large tracts of sugarcane crops.

In Cooktown, which bore the brunt of the storm, four buildings were destroyed and another 50 were damaged by high winds.

Power was knocked out over a wide area and may take weeks to restore in some of the most remote locations.

Remnants of the storm later hit New Zealand with high winds and squalls that knocked out power and caused numerous traffic accidents.

Cyclone Ita Track

Satellite Loop Data: CIMSS