Saturday, 5 February 2011

Open thread - Saturday

Our friend Tan from Down Under kept us posted about the devastating effects of Cyclone Yasi:

For anyone interested, I am pleased to update that there are still no reported deaths as a result of Cyclone Yasi two days later! I knew a lot of people were out of contact in the initial hours so I was concerned there may be casualties in those areas. Also there was great fear of people being killed long after the storm passed, from falling debris etc.

There is a huge amount of damage and so many people have lost their homes and livelihoods but thankfully they still have their lives and their families and friends! It is a credit to their bravery, and the well coordinated and dedicated efforts of both the federal government and the Queensland government and wonderful premier Ms Bligh, that a cyclone with comparable ferocity to the deadly Katrina can come ashore in a fairly heavily populated area and make it all the way to Mt Isa (!) without a single death.

Despite some reports, there actually were many people in it's path - I'd guess over 300,000 - as Cairns and Townsville are large cities in Australian terms. It is a testament to how resiliant these people are that the storm, of which usually immediately weaken and die out once on land, made it to Mt Isa. If you look at a map of Australia, Mt Isa is definitely not a cyclone prone zone as it's all the way over near the border to the northern territory!

At the moment there's a large problem with pets and livestock. Unfortunately, people were not allowed to bring their pets to the evacuation centres (I think they could've set up a separate area or something? To keep kids calmer at the very least) so a lot of pets were left to fend for themselves and are now homeless. Of course there is little anyone can do for them right now with bigger problems. I do hope they get reconciled with their proper families and treated well in the meantime.

Sorry this is so long and off topic! I'm just so pleased and proud to be an Australian right now. We have a new tax to pay for it; I can't imagine that happening easily in America these days :( Sarah would be the first person to complain about it.

Later, Tan gave us sadder news:

My apologies! There is one confirmed dead and one person missing, unfortunately. Some towns are simply flattened, boats piled on top of each other on the docks...

Tan, I don't understand your apology about being off-topic. If there is a place to share anything, it's the daily open thread. Thank you so much for keeping us closer to the events in Australia.

Another friend, OzMud from Queensland, documented Yasi's progress in a number of posts. Here are the links, from the first to the most recent post on the topic:

Cyclone Yasi Photos

Brisbane-Ipswich Dodge the Cyclone

Cyclone Yasi Upgraded To Category 5

Cyclone Yasi – Counting Down

Cyclone Yasi – Landfall

Cyclone Yasi – First Light

Please keep safe, Australian friends.

More articles and videos about the cyclone on BBC News

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