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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Grist for the Mill » Natural Disasters - Responses

   
Author Topic: Natural Disasters - Responses
Brendan
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I'm watching the appeal for the flood victims a few miles north of here in Queensland, Australia. (I live in Brisbane.) There seems to be a different response this time compared to previous disasters I have seen both in Australia and around the world. There doesn't seem to be much finger pointing, there is a real sense of comraderie and togetherness - everyone pulling together for the cause. There is an area larger than the equivalent of Germany and France combined underwater, including some of my friends.

I can't help compare it to other disasters, such as the bush fires in Victoria two years ago, New Orleans some years back and the oil spill last year. What causes one disaster to be managed so differently to other disasters? Why does the sense of hope seem to be so resonant this time? Is it just the media or something else? It's interesting to watch, to, in a sense, be part of.


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Robert Nowall
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I hate to say it, but a lot of people will think that when certain places get hit with disaster, the people closest to it can handle it themselves. Most cases, they're right.

It does make a difference where disaster strikes. Last year, remember, Port-au-Prince in Haiti was struck by a devastating earthquake...then a few months later there was one of similar size in Chile. Haiti got the handling, and still gets it...the quake in Chile slipped out of the headlines quickly.

Why? The general perception, probably true, that Haiti can't take care of itself under the best of circumstances, and that, of all the places in the world that could get hit by disaster, this was one least likely to handle it.

New Orleans has a reputation within the United States for, well, being a problem child as far as cities go. A lot of the Hurricane Katrina problems flowed from that, particularly the lack of a well-thought-out hurricane evacuation plan. Other areas were trashed at the same time, and had no such problems.

You guys in Australia, you look and act like you can handle what hits you, whatever it happens to be. If you need help, of one kind or another, you'll ask for it. You'll make do, and you'll pull through.


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PB&Jenny
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Let's here it for the Aussies! My friend Don and his family live where they were hit by those fires. They came out pretty well. A little charred up, but good. Miss him lots.

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Brendan
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It was an interesting night last night here in Brisbane - I was up till 3:00 am checking the river levels at the end of our estate. The Pine river, which is in the Northern suburbs of Brisbane, isn't as big in catchment area as the Brisbane River, so very little mention was made of it on the news. We therefore didn't know how high it would go. A ridge exists between us and the river, with our drainage going the other direction. The worry for our house was that the river would top the lip of the ridge at some point and either flow directly to us or, more likely, backflow through the drainage. When I first went to the river, at high tide, it was higher than I'd ever seen, but had four meters to go. I didn't think there was a problem at that point. Three hours later, it was only two meters to go. That is where it stayed - thank God. If it had topped the lip, it would have come about 3/4 up our house.

Unlike the Brisbane River, which will continue flooding today, the worst is over for the Pine River (so long as it doesn't rain - it now seems a brighter day with little rain). So we have survived.

I took some footage of the river. Imagine a 400m wide river travelling at 40 - 50 km per hour. What you see of the Brisbane river is slow compared to the pace that the Pine was going - more the pace of the Toowoomba footage but on a much larger scale (and in the river bed where it is suppose to). An incredible amount of water.

[This message has been edited by Brendan (edited January 12, 2011).]


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Robert Nowall
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I saw a wild news video of a heavy SUV caught in one of those flash floods, bobbing along like it was a cork.

Keep well, and remember that when the waters come they come swift...


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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So glad you were able to avoid disaster, Brendan. How harrowing!
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Brendan
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So we survived the floods, but now the biggest cyclone in generations is bearing down on us here in Queensland. Here it is compared to several other locations on Earth. http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/floodrelief/how-cyclone-yasi-compares-around-the-world/story-fn7ik2te-1225998762870

Fortunately, even though it is in the state that I am living, it will cross over a thousand miles north of here, so we will only get the rain at the edge.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Wow! What a monster.

Do they think it will calm down any as it moves inland? (It appears to be headed almost straight for Ayers Rock, if not a little south of it.)

Yikes!


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rich
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Wow. Who did you guys piss off?

I also dig the US-centric overlay. We in the US tend to be self-centered, and it's cool that there's a way to convey the severity of this storm to help us Americans.

"The cyclone is huge!"

"I don't understand."

"It would probably destroy the UK."

"No, I mean, I don't understand what a cyclone is. Isn't that Japanese for thunderstorm?"

"It's a hurricane."

"Ohhhhhhhhhh. And you say it's destroying the UK?"

"No, it's going to hit Australia."

"Oh, man. What's going to happen to The Lord of the Rings tourism?"

"That's New Zealand."

"Really? I could've sworn I saw something in Entertainment Weekly...anyway, I guess that doesn't matter. How big is this again? You say it's pretty big, right?"

"Huge! It would cover Southeast Asia, and impact Central Asia, too."

"Ummm..."

"If it were to hit Europe, the UK would surely be devastated, and the European continent would be severely affected as well."

"I see."

"The storm would almost cover the entire United States."

"OHMYGAWD!!!! SOMEBODY SHOULD DO SOMETHING!!"


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Robert Nowall
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"...the death toll is expected to reach into the thousands, but not to worry---no Americans were killed."

*****

Actually, I thought this storm is playing third- or fourth-banana in the news coverage here in the USA to Egypt, to (American) politics, and to a few other things.

Hurricanes aren't to be taken lightly...I've ridden through a couple over the years. One of 'em trashed a roof I was going to replace anyway...but if I'd'a know it was going to pass as close as it did (fifteen or twenty miles), I might've bugged out with some of my neighbors.

(Great was my joy when the hurricane passed and I found all those tiles in the back yard were from my neighbor's house. Considerably less was my joy when I had to pick all those tiles up.)


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Robert Nowall
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You may have noticed in the past few days that Japan suffered (1) a massive earthquake, followed by (2) a devastating tsunami, and in addition to that is in danger of (3) radioactive fallout from nuclear power plants that failed due to (1) and (2).

In line with our thesis, I'd say help is being offered to Japan, but Japan will choose what it is willing to take.


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