The army has been called in to clean up Queensland's disaster zone after Cyclone Debbie smashed into the Whitsunday region, unleashing howling winds of 260 km/h.
The storm left trees knocked down, tore through buildings and left shorelines swamped after hitting land as a category 4 storm at 12pm near Airlie Beach and is expected to continue throughout the week.
It was downgraded to a category 3 cyclone just after 3pm but strong winds continued to affect Airlie Beach, Proserpine and Bowen later in the afternoon.
The QLD premier and police commissioner spoke on Tuesday afternoon to prepare the state for Cyclone Debbie's aftermath.
"We are going to get lots of reports of damage and sadly I think we will also receive more reports of injuries, if not deaths. We need to be prepared for that," Commissioner Ian Stewart said.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the state would be dealing with the impact of the "scary" cyclone for the next three to five days as it moved down the coast.
"I think there is going to be a lot of shock and awe in the morning," she said.
The storm smashed the Whitsunday Islands, with gusts of 263 km/h recorded at Hamilton Island while the jetty at Daydream Island appeared to have washed away.
More than 48,000 homes were without power across the Bowen, Mackay and Whitsunday regions and more than 400 schools and childcare centres closed.
-AAP/Triple M Brisbane