Drone footage shows canefields that were flattened in the Eton area.
Drone footage shows canefields that were flattened in the Eton area. Michael Kennedy, chief operator

Cane farmer estimates crop losses could be 30%

A MACKAY region canefarmer is still cleaning and repairing his flood damaged property a month after he copped a lashing from Cyclone Debbie.

Ray Abela, a grower of more than four decades, lost roughly 30% of his cane crop when a torrent of water ripped through his Drapers Siding farm, just north of Eton.

The 56-year-old's home was also inundated, as well as a shed housing a variety of farm machinery, such as tractors.

While it's been an anxious time for the farmer following Debbie, he's starting to see thelight at the end of the tunnel..

"It's been hard. I'm still cleaning up. And I've probably got a couple of weeks left of this (cleaning)," he said.

"All the machinery needs to be checked ... rebuilds will be needed for most of them. And I've got two irrigation plants out at the moment, in town getting bearings and everything fixed.

"They're all big items and it's been a matter of prioritising... "

Mr Abela, who's been cane farming since he was 15, had never been subject to a weather event as fierce as Debbie, which hit near Airlie Beach a month ago on Friday.

It taught him just how hard a weather event like Debbie can affect communities worst hit.

"I've only been down to the paddock once since the flood. Because I just haven't had the time between sorting everything else," he said.

"This one (Debbie) has been huge. I never, ever realised how big a problem it is when a flood like this comes through.

"You see other people in these things and say 'oh poor buggers', but you don't realise until you start cleaning just what they go through.

Mr Abela said he's mostly held it together, despite strong emotions.

However, one moment stood out as particularly poignant: Watching his insurance company write off tractors and other machinery, the backbone of his farm.

"That's your livelihood someone's put a cross through," he said.

It's all been pretty hard to deal with."


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