Monday, March 20, 2006

Who names a fucking cyclone Larry, anyway?

I probably wouldn’t normally bother commenting on something as mundane as a category 5 cyclone nor would I normally bother commenting on something as mundane as John Howard. However, seeing him on the news with his bullshit mate-ese and his aren’t-we-better-than-the-seppos lark somewhat raised my ire. This man has no conception of cyclones. He has never lost sleep tracking a wayward storm and wondering whether it will strike his town or linger over the ocean growing stronger or weaker by degrees. He has never felt the bizarre silence of a world bereft of birds. Not, that this is particularly relevant – what annoys me is his smug appearance on television talking about how Aussies all help each other out and how prepared the military is to help out and gods know what other bullshit that I couldn’t be arsed listening to.
A category 5 cyclone is the motherload. It’s a fucker, a mindless fucker, which is going to destroy most of everything in its path. Everyone who has ever lived in a cyclone prone area knows this. They also know what they need to do. They know what they have to do. This doesn’t make them special, it doesn’t make them heroes – it’s part of the contract they make in living where they do. It’s not just the ordinary citizens who know their place in this situation. The local and state governments know their place, they have their plans for evacuation, their plans for reconnecting water and power, they have their plans for looking after their people in an hour [or days or weeks or months] of need. Again, this is all part of the contract for populating these areas.
What annoyed me about Howard’s comments was his behaving as though military help was not a normal procedure in this event. It’s not like there are enormous army or air force bases in the immediate area or anything. It’s not like the army and the city of Townsville are co-dependant. It’s not like there aren’t Blackhawk helicopters based in the area. The relationship between the army and the communities of that region is unusual and pretty integrated. It benefits the army as much as the communities for them to assist in the clean up. That man is attempting to score political points off perfectly normal emergency procedures that transcend party politics. He is also attempting to score international political points off the Americans. I will be the first to admit that I could not believe the U.S. reaction to Hurricane Katrina. When that disaster unfolded I was astounded by how different the disaster protocols for that country and this are. I always said that it would never happen that way here. I’ve lived in the region [north Queensland] and have seen and heard of the preparedness of the local and state authorities [though the locals can leave something to be desired – buying batteries and candles as the cyclone approaches is just fucking slack]. There is a cyclone season every year even if none form or land. The same goes for the U.S. and the hurricane season. It is in the best interest of the authorities to be prepared and to plan for the worst case scenario. It defies my logic that any government at any level in such developed nations could or would operate in any other way. Much as I deplored what happened with Hurricane Katrina I loathe it being used as political capital for a government who has really very little to do with what has and what will happen in Innisfail [btw usually pronounced InnisVail].

I found Wilson’s Blogmanac very useful. I love it when other people do all the hard work.

6 comments:

themarina said...

Well, I'm not in a cyclone prone area but my parents did land us on a major fault and I've never been able to leave the bloody area. So far, so good...no major quakes but 'they' keep telling us that when it hits, we're all in for it. One more reason to live by "carpe diem".

Don Quixote said...

Seizing on disaster and strife seems to be the ultimate political rallying cry of the modern era. If you stand amongst the smoldering ashes of disaster and proclaim all the victims to be heroes, then you awake a primal patriotic notion in people's breasts. "Yes!" people will think, "We are heroes!!" Of course whichever leader is proclaiming such things is hoping that by association they'll be thought of as a hero too; that's the trick.

Belongum said...

One thing our Johnny does 'well' is milk a situation to his best ability... good advisors - good spin doctors... who knows, but nothing's changed, pollies have velcroed themselves to such events since time (and pollies) began. Our military would be acting in situ already, on their own behalf... but unfortunately their equipment IS public property - and knowing the military machine some (and the beuracracy it now answers to), it wouldn't surprise me that in today's military climate - they would have had to recieve 'permission' FIRST from the bean counters, before the unit commanders were allowed to deploy equipment and people power. If they HAD the people power that is... we're are grossly undermanned.

Belongum said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
nailpolishblues said...

Must admit, Belongum, that it had occurred to me that there might not be any soldiers around to help out. What a waste of a training exercise!

That little man-thing annoys me so much and all I can do is provide a half-arsed rant...

Mark said...

Hey, that was a good post.

I would draw a distinction between the New Orleans contingency plan and the implementation of that plan - from what I hear it was a well-discussed, even archetypal, natural disaster problem, but all the talk and paperwork done on it amounted to very little in practice.

(We should have a new version of the saying 'you can't eat money' that goes 'you can't eat reports, or sleep on a symposium - unless you were actually invited to the symposium in which case work would pay for a hotel'.)

Wow long comment.