The Storm of the Century
Well, the superlatives are already being bandied about..."worse than Cyclone Tracy", "the most ferocious storm in decades"...but I suppose that if you were directly affected, all that matters is how you saw it...Cyclone Larry, which battered far north Queensland yesterday (Australian time).
Rather than publishing many different links, for the latest news, as ever ABC news is the best source...here you will find updates, photogalleries and videos.
To give some idea of the damage the cyclone caused...
A lamp post bent over by the storm
Damage along a roadside in Innisfail
Although it was a category five storm, the same strength as Hurricane Katrina, miraculously no one was seriously injured or killed. It has already been pointed out that comparisons cannot really be drawn with Katrina; Cyclone Larry hit a sparsely populated area which has a well known history of cyclones; buildings are constructed to withstand storms and residents are well versed in evacuation procedures. Also, there was little post-storm flooding.
It remains to be seen whether comparisons to the government's bungling of the post-storm response prove more apt. John Howard is due to visit the affected areas today, a time when sweeping announcements of aid are traditionally announced. It will certainly be needed - currently it's not known how many people have been left homeless, as reports of damage from outlying areas are still coming through, but the figure is at least in the hundreds. Also, some 4000 local jobs have been lost, which would be bad enough anywhere, but this is the majority of the people employed in the affected area! There's hundreds of millions dollars of property damage, and some reports say up to 90% of Australia's banana and 95% of the avocado crops have been destroyed.
In the medium to long term, there's something else which the government should look at...I don't often find myself agreeing with Alan Jones, but I did this morning when he stated that the Australian government needs to institute a disaster management fund. After all, it isn't like natural disasters are uncommon events in Australia, with flooding, bushfires, drought, and my own earthquake-prone home town. With such a massive budget surplus, the government could easily kick off such a fund with, say, $10 million, and then contribute a further few million from each annual budget.
Unfortunately, no one ever seems to ask me about any of this. Meanwhile if you know of a link or site for making donations, please leave it in the comments...