The majority of my life, I have experienced my fair share of what the media classed as ‘natural disasters’. When I was 9, I was in Newcastle when the famous 1989 earthquake hit, and was very aware of the panic that happened afterwards. I went back to live there in 2002, and even today, there are buildings that still carry a scar of that tragic day.
Apon moving to Cairns towards the end of 1990, the city not long after became under threat by Cyclone Joy; a Catergory 5 monster that made Cyclone Tracy look like a summer breeze. Watching the news as a child with reporters saying that thousands of body bags were being flown up from Brisbane, in preparation for the devastation, you can understand the reasons behind people’s panic. Fortunately though, Cyclone Joy didn’t come across the coast, and it took 16 years before Cyclone Larry decided to rip through Innisfail in 2006.
|Cyclone Joy’s path in December 1990|
After a number of years in Far North Queensland and many close calls with cyclones and flooding, it never seemed such a big deal afterwards as the majority of people who live in FNQ are prepared and well-versed in what to do in such an emergency. This however, is not how I felt over the last week with the recent flood disaster currently in South East Queensland.
Being right on the river and my cousin in Lismore, I admit I started to worry early. Although I was on a hill, I had no idea what the outcome was going to be, mainly because I wasn’t around in 1974. The next thing I did, which was probably the worst thing to do, was turn on the news. If ever I was to think that the Australian media was starting to go the way of fear-mongering US news channels like Fox News, this event was the turning point. Campbell Newman, the Brisbane mayor, was constantly on TV and radio repeating the words, “Stay calm, and in an orderly fashion, move to safer ground if possible.” But in dramatic style, the media continued to make the situation worse by quoting predictions that sent people completely insane.
People were emptying shopping centres and having punch-ups for milk and bread; lining up and emptying petrol stations and driving and swerving like complete maniacs on the road. It was like watching scenes from the movie, “Cloverfield”.
|Sight-seeing causes gridlock today on Moggil Road|
Even today, as Rome and I got stuff ready to go help out with the volunteer work in the Graceville area, sight-seers were blocking up the roads into Chelmer, preventing trucks and utes with water damaged rubbish and emergency services to get through to these vital areas. The reason I called this blog, “The Bizarre Nature Of A Natural Disaster”, is because the behaviour of people has been, of course, biiizaaaree. Because of recent drought, the media and government have been complacent in reminding people that most of inner Brisbane, like Cairns, is built on swamp land, and very prone to flooding.
But in hindsight, all of these little things are overshadowed by the actual damage this has caused, especially to Toowoomba and The Lockyer Valley. And if you look at the way Australians respond in need to those, including volunteers and emergency workers, it made you happy that you don’t live in places like New Orleans, or Indonesia. My thoughts go out to those who have lost everything, and hope your copy of trivial pursuit is still in tact, so you can at least keep your mindset positive.
To the media, shame on you for creating unnecessary panic. There is no positive outcome for making people completely lose there minds, as most people are smart enough to calmly get themselves to safety.
This blog is dedicated to the families who lost love ones in the floods, and hope you find peace in the future.