For those of you who do not live in Australia, it's hard to imagine the magnitude of the natural disasters that have happened here in the last two months. Flooding in the Gascoyne area of Western Australia, twice in a month, was followed by massive floods in Queensland inundating an enormous area of southern Queensland and including a devastating flash flood in the Lockyer Valley and serious flooding in Brisbane. Northern New South Wales also experienced severe flooding, fortunately not on the scale of Queensland. Just as the water began to recede in the north flooding began in Victoria where what has been described as an inland sea is still moving and inundating huge areas and there was local flooding in several parts of Tasmania. While this was going on bushfires caused serious damage just south of Perth in Western Australia and a few days ago storms cut through the central wheatbelt in Western Australia damaging homes and farms while an errant tropical cyclone raced along the west coast, threatening but fortunately delivering little damage. Now we have Cyclone Yasi, a Category 5 Tropical Cyclone with winds up to 295 kmph, (as a comparison think of Hurricane Katrina where winds reached 281 kmph) which hit the north eastern coast of Queensland last night causing enormous damage to crops and although it is now downgraded to a severe tropical low pressure system as it pushes inland it is still bringing strong winds and rain and with that the potential of more flooding.
Among all this devastation there have been relatively few deaths - although any are too many - and this is largely due to the efficiency and preparedness of our emergency services. Yes, there were mistakes, and yes, in some instances it could have been done better but generally the various government and volunteer agencies have performed well in difficult circumstance, especially when compared to the way some governments in other countries have handled their own disasters.
We have a long way to go still and the cumulative after effects of what has happened are going to impact on every Australian for a long time. Many areas that have been devastated are major suppliers of our fresh fruit and vegetables and beef growers are also affected. Prices will inevitably go up but we will survive.
In the meantime we should remember those who risked their lives and made a terrible time better. Thank you to all who have done so much.