We watch and we wait and we hope

By Annabel Crabb

Updated February 3, 2011 09:24:00

Trees destroyed by Cyclone Yasi in the North Queensland town of Mission Beach on February 3, 2011.

UPDATE 8:00am from ABC News: First light is revealing the trail of destruction left by Cyclone Yasi, with the north Queensland towns of Innisfail, Tully, Mission Beach and Cardwell bearing the brunt of the monster storm during a terrifying night.

The cyclone is now heading inland towards Georgetown and Charters Towers and has been downgraded to a category two storm, but many residents are still trapped in their homes as Yasi continues on its path of destruction.

Higher-than-normal tides and large waves will continue between Port Douglas and Ayr and sea levels may again exceed the high-water mark on this morning's high tide, due around 9:30am AEST.

Premier Anna Bligh says there have been no reports so far of deaths or serious injuries, but cautioned it was too early to draw any conclusions. More here.

Last night: What an eerie feeling it is to watch, on ABC News24, interviews with North Queenslanders about the impending destruction of their homes.

This cyclone is bigger than Cyclone Tracy, and our interaction with it is much more intimate; instead of those familiar images of Darwin's aftermath we now can see and feel the approach of this behemoth live to air; on TV, Twitter, radio, Facebook.

It's as compelling and dreadful as a horror movie, its principal character's presence menacingly implicit in the snuffing out of the Willis Island weather station.

Those in the cyclone's path are helpless; watching, so are we.

It shouldn't take a second disaster - hell, it shouldn't even take a single disaster - to remind us of what's important.

But whatever happens in Queensland tonight, let's hope that whatever we are called upon to do to help, as a nation, when the sun comes up tomorrow, we can avoid some of the foolishness of recent weeks.

Let's hope that arbitrary obsessiveness about the precise degree of federal surplus two years' hence, or the bickering over who has to pay levies and who gets excused, can be replaced by a common acceptance that some emergencies are absolute.

Let's hope that the response from Canberra is less about mutual accusations of vile opportunism and more about a gracious retreat from the political gun-fight in deference to the extreme misfortune of others.

Let's hope that we can all develop some faith in the idea that there are some circumstances in which only governments can come to the rescue, and let's hope that that faith is justified.

And in the meantime, let's hope that those in peril can hold on.

Annabel Crabb is ABC Online's chief political writer.

Tags: disasters-and-accidents, cyclones, federal-government, weather, cyclone, australia

First posted February 2, 2011 15:21:00

Comments (141)

Ture Sjolander:

  • 03 Feb 2011 11:32:17am

    "Yasi huge disappointment to Australian news media, No death!" - Yasa

    No hero's and no Medals was created but the drama was saved as a Australian child soldier was killed in Afghanistan.

    Let's have another wishful event!!!!

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