Life goes back to normal a day after Cyclone Ita sauntered through the city.

Life goes back to normal a day after Cyclone Ita sauntered through the city.

What a difference a day makes.

Cairns on Saturday was a city on alert, its streets deserted and almost all shops and restaurants closed.

Tropical cyclone Ita – downgraded to a category 1 storm – skirted the far north Queensland city, dumping almost 100 millimetres of rain and buffeting the city with 59km/h winds.

Life goes back to normal a day after Cyclone Ita sauntered through the city.

Life goes back to normal a day after Cyclone Ita sauntered through the city. Photo: Glenn Hunt

On Sunday morning, the sandbags in the CBD were being removed, the car parks were full and the famous Esplanade back to its bustling self, bathed in brilliant sunshine and a balmy tropical heat.

Bar from some loose leaves and broken vegetation, there was no evidence of Ita’s visit.

Cairns Chamber of Commerce chief executive Deb Hancock said despite the lack of damage in the city, tropical cyclone Ita would have cost the Cairns economy dearly.

Hairdresser Raewyn Golberg enters her salon the day after Cyclone Ita sauntered through Cairns.

Hairdresser Raewyn Golberg enters her salon the day after Cyclone Ita sauntered through Cairns. Photo: Glenn Hunt

“Every time we’ve got a day without trading, it’s millions in lost earnings,” she said.

“We’ve got 40,000 room nights per night here in Cairns and if people are persuaded to stay away, that has a flow-on effect.”

Ms Hancock said she feared the media coverage of tropical cyclone Ita, particularly in the lead-up to it crossing the coast at Cape Flattery about 220 kilometres north of Cairns, would keep tourists away.

“We have Easter long weekend coming up and there’s been so much media coverage in the past week saying the region would be devastated and we clearly weren’t,” she said.

“The very next day, as you can see, we’re back up and running.”

Still, the people of Cairns know they got off lightly.

Ita was packing a much lighter punch at 10pm on Saturday when it passed the city – much weaker than the category 4 storm that crossed the coast on Friday.

Like most business owners in Cairns, Scene Hair’s Raewyn Goldberg closed her shop on Saturday as Ita approached.

On Sunday morning, she was removing sandbags and unpeeling the tape from her Grafton Street business’s doors.

Ms Goldberg said Saturday was normally her busiest trading day, but she understood people’s safety was more important.

“I’m actually new to Cairns, so it’s my first cyclone,” the New Zealand native said.

“I was pretty nervous about it, to be honest, and yesterday looking out and seeing the wind and the rain I was very grateful by the time it got here it was only a category 1.

“I would not like to experience a category 4 or 5 – that would be really scary.”