“So it just shows how strong this system was when it was approaching the coast.”
There are only two accommodation dongas – sheds used as temporary housing – left behind the roadhouse after the storm went through.
Five others were completely blown away by the storm and emergency service workers have been unable to find them.
The roadhouse owner, 36-year-old father Varinder Batth, and his business partner were forced to take shelter in a shipping container as the cyclone went over the venue, leaving extensive damage in its wake.
“Once we reached there, I didn’t stop shaking for at least two hours,” he told 9News.
“We down sat there for at least about four hours, it felt like four days.”
Batth estimates the damage bill is around $4 million and with insurance unlikely to cover the whole bill, a GoFundMe page has already been set up.
The WA governement is yet to announce any disaster relief funding.
The tropical low is expected to dump rain across Australia for several days as it moves further inland and past the mining town of Telfer in the Pilbara’s far east.
Ilsa was heading straight for Port Headland until changing direction hours before it made landfall, with the Bureau of Meteorology saying the area “dodged a bullet”.
The port re-opened on Friday morning after a 24-hour closure in anticipation of the weather event.
“The fact that the cyclone took a south-eastward shift in the track late yesterday afternoon really means that Port Hedland dodged a bullet last night,” Smith said.
“Most of the impacts as we’ve seen are further to the east, and the impacts in Port Hedland were really light with the system tracking about 150km further along the track.”
Smith said the storm is expected to continue moving east before dropping below cyclone intensity and moving into the Northern Territory.
But while it is weakening, acting Emergency Services Minister Sue Ellery said Ilsa still poses danger.
“This situation is still developing,” she said.
“Ilsa is continuing to move eastward now as a category 2. There are several remote communities and mining operations which are yet to be impacted…
“This is a live event. To all of the communities in the Pilbara and the Kimberley, please take care of yourselves, your family members and stay safe.
“The impact of severe Tropical Cyclone Ilsa is not over yet.”