Watching our politicians stroll through the ruins of North Qld, I was reminded of the time Ronald Reagan said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the Government and I’m here to help.’” Personally I reckon the following are much worse: “Say, is that a crocodile you’re sitting on?” or, “Fat Tony wants his money now,” and, “Here comes Bob Brown!”
It takes a lot to frighten North Queenslanders but Yasi had them worried. Throughout the night, I listened to the ABC radio coverage of the cyclone, and thanks to surprisingly reliable mobile phone technology, our Northern neighbours were able to describe first-hand the horror of seeing their homes, sheds and chook pens exploding before their eyes.
One call in particular bought a lump to my throat; an old widow who rang to say she was terrified, but was trying not to show it because she didn’t want to alarm her life-long companion; a pet bird. I was filled with silent admiration for her and the many Aussies who called with heartfelt messages of hope: It will soon be over. We are thinking of you. Be brave. Hold on.
Meanwhile the radio announcer did a cracking job of providing calming encouragement to her distressed callers, and chanting the mantra, “Stay indoors, do not go outside. Please, do not go outside!” Advice which was roundly ignored by nearly every TV reporter who had been flown in to cover the cyclone.
Why the networks sent teams of people into harms way unnecessarily is beyond me. What if one of them had been killed getting the coveted ‘money shot’ of a wind blown street? “Sure he got sliced in half by a bit of roofing iron, but look at our ratings!” These glory seeking idiots must be the bane of Emergency Services workers.
The next day, shell-shocked locals were then subjected to this stupid question from smiling reporters, “So, how does it feel to have lost your house?” I was hoping someone would say: “Absolutely fantastic! Now I don’t have to paint the spare room!”
The poor sods; having survived one of the biggest blows in Queensland’s history, they are now enduring another blow of hot air from our pollies’ and the circling media vultures. So, here’s my heartfelt message to all North Queenslanders: It will soon be over. We are thinking of you. Be brave. Hold on.