Battered state braced for cyclone

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A cyclone raced raced toward Australia's flood-ravaged northeast yesterday, rattling nerves in a region that has already suffered billions of dollars of damage from a months-long crisis.

Cyclone Anthony built to a category 2 storm with winds of 80mph and was expected to cross the Queensland state coast early yesterday. 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 it is another big, cruel blow."

Heavy rains that began in November have caused massive flooding, killing 35 people and damaging or destroying 30,000 homes and businesses.