Brisbane: A cyclone raced toward Australia`s flood-ravaged northeast on Sunday, rattling nerves in a region that has already suffered billions of dollars worth of damage from a monthslong crisis.
Cyclone Anthony intensified to a Category 2 storm with winds of 80 mph (130 kph) and was expected to cross the Queensland state coast early Monday morning. The Bureau of Meteorology warned residents in coastal communities to brace for destructive winds and more flooding.
"You just think, can any more cruel blows land on Queensland and the nation? And unfortunately the answer seems to be yes," Prime Minister Julia Gillard said. "We`re all made of tough stuff and we`ll get through this, but this is another big, cruel blow coming on top of what has been a summer of tragedy already."
Heavy rains that began in November have caused massive flooding across Australia, killing 35 people and damaging or destroying 30,000 homes and businesses. Brisbane, the country`s third-largest city and the capital of Queensland, was under water for days.
The federal government has estimated the cost of the damage is already at AUD 5.6 billion (USD 5.6 billion) and likely to rise.
Forecasters are watching another tropical weather system developing in the South Pacific that could hit Queensland later in the week.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said disaster management officials throughout the state were on alert and evacuation centres were available if needed.