Tropical Cyclone Damien brings flooding, gale-force winds and storm surges as it tracks inland
Destructive winds from Cyclone Damien pummel the WA coastline. (ABC News)
Emergency crews will begin assessing the damage from a cyclone in Western Australia's Pilbara region today, after thousands of residents spent the night in lockdown.
Tropical Cyclone Damien crossed over the coast as a category three system at about 3:30pm yesterday, bringing severe, destructive winds, torrential rainfall and storm surges.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said the system was downgraded to a category two last night and weakened as it moved inland. By 9:00am AWST today it had been downgraded to a category one system.
A red alert remains in place for parts of the Pilbara, including Karratha, but it is expected to be lifted later today.
Damaging winds with gusts up to 100kph have still been occurring over parts of the central Pilbara, including Tom Price, and these are expected to extend further south into the north-east Gascoyne today.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) spokesman Will Blackshaw said authorities would begin to inspect the damage at first light and "assess the risk posed to the community" before giving the all clear — a process which could take several hours.
"Once we are comfortable that the risks can be managed, then we will consider the lifting of the red alert," he said.
"I still need those people to be vigilant.
"Not only are there risks from the cyclone itself, but the damage it's caused can also cause a lot of other hazards such as downed powerlines, flying debris and floodwaters as well."
Mr Blackshaw said the DFES had received more than 100 calls for assistance, but he expected that figure to "increase significantly" once people were able to leave their properties and assess the damage.
Most requests for help through St John Ambulance were dealt with "relatively quickly" and no significant calls were made overnight.
Cyclone Damien moves inland
BOM duty forecaster Rabi Rivett said Cyclone Damien was steadily weakening and was on a path towards Tom Price and Paraburdoo.
At 5:00am AWST, the category two system had wind gusts of up to 130 kilometres per hour near its centre and was moving south/south-east at 14km per hour.
"Tom Price could be seeing gale-force winds which could cause damage to homes and property," Mr Rivett said.
"Then as we go further south, Paraburdoo is likely to get a little less wind and the system should be weaker by the time it gets there.
"Heavy rainfalls are continuing near the path that Damien is taking and we've seen rainfall totals in order of 200 to 250mm in the past 24 hours near where Damien has moved through."
Karratha recorded 235.2mm of rain by 9:00am Sunday, while Roebourne saw 234.8mm.
DFES incident controller Mr Blackshaw warned flooding would be the next big risk to the Pilbara and he reminded people not to drive onto flooded roads.
"The cyclone will continue to drop large amounts of rain even as it deteriorates and there are flood warnings current for many catchments in the Pilbara area, also extending into [flood] watches in the Gascoyne area," he said.
Several roads remain closed in the region
Power outage hits thousands
About 10,000 customers were affected by power outages last night and some suffered intermittent phone reception issues.
Horizon Power spokeswoman Michelle South said crews had this morning successfully restored power to a number of Karratha suburbs but it was still unknown how many people were left without it.
"Network patrols will continue in daylight hours to assess further damage and restore power to any remaining areas," she said.
"The process of complete restoration and repairs will likely take some time and we thank customers for their patience and understanding as we work through this process."
The loss of power also caused issues with the wastewater network in Karratha, Wickham and Roebourne.