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Cooktown cleans up after Cyclone Ita

As 300 residents in the Cooktown cyclone shelter made their way into a windswept town on Saturday, some things had changed in the hamlet of 2300.

The West Coast Hotel had lost its roof, as had two houses. Power was out to most. Landline telephones were not working.

But most fortunately no lives had been lost from a towering cyclone initially rated as a fearsome category five, which gusted up to 230km/h as it crossed the coastline about 10pm on Friday just to the town's north.

Richard Szczerba, a manager at Cornett's IGA in Cooktown, said: ''It's just going to be windy, dreary and all that sort of thing today for us - just everybody out there cleaning, getting stuff off the roads.

''The Endeavour River's flooding - I can't get home. That's just life when a cyclone strikes.''

Mr Szczerba said there were hundreds of trees down in the town and surrounding scrubland.

In Cairns, many major shopping centres were closed but some smaller retailers kept their doors open throughout the storm.

''I'm at work … no one's open around me,'' said Glenn Tomlinson, owner of the Railway Newsagency in Mcleod Street.

Mr Tomlinson said the main risk was trees falling and a storm surge predicted for about 3pm.