Across Continents

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A stoic nation

January 12th, 2011

Tropical downpour from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Queensland. I’d always known I’d be here in the wet season. But this year the rainfall has reached levels not seen for decades. Towns and villages flooded. Some several times in just a few weeks. Even, Brisbane, the State Capital not immune. Tens of thousands of homes expected to be submerged shortly.

The scale of devastation is difficult to comprehend. And, with much of population living along the east coast, the impact on people likely to be far greater than the geographic extent of the flooding might suggest. This isn’t a few rivers bursting their banks. This is de facto a national emergency. Three quarters of Queensland declared a Natural Disaster Zone.

The extent of the damage, to property, to the lives of individuals, is truly moving. Watch just a little of the saturation news coverage and you’d be hard pressed not to have a tear in your eye. And yet the people remain truly stoic. Ordered evacuations, precious few reports of panic buying, even less of looting. Perfect strangers helping residents rescue possessions. That the emergency services are able to cope as impressive. This isn’t New Orleans.

And no let up in sight. Ground saturated. An otherwise ordinary downpour a few days ago resulting in a devastating flash flood. Ripping through the town of Grantham. At least ten dead. The final death toll likely to be much higher. Flooding starting to shift south into the neighbouring State of New South Wales. And Cairns itself not immune. Flash flood warning in force earlier.

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