Summer and cyclones – they seem to go together down under. Here in Queensland, we copped another battering over the last couple of days courtesy of category 5 Cyclone Marcia.
Each cyclone has the capacity to reawaken slumbering memories of other cyclones. For many Queenslanders, 2011 Cyclone Yasi is still very fresh in our memories. In the aftermath of the storm which was more than 600 kilometres wide, a record 99% of our state was declared flooded. Our children watched inside for close lightning strikes as my husband and I filled sandbags. Helicopters flew over our house with sirens alerting us to evacuate. How? To where? Our road was under fast-flowing water, and even if we could get through, all roads leaving our region to the north, the south, and the west (the ocean is to the east) were underwater. We had a plan, though – we were going to throw everyone in our neighbour’s boat, and tie my mother in her wheelchair to some inflatables and sail out if it came to that! Panicked hilarity, but it kept us sane when we had no land phone lines, no mobile communication options, and no way of knowing if any of our family members were washed away, for days.
Post-cyclone, I understand the focus on communicable diseases – the ensuing water creates the perfect home for creatures like mosquitoes which transmit some pretty nasty diseases. However, this morning I was pleased to see a paper by Ryan, Franklin, Burkle, Watt, Aitken, Smith and Leggat: Analyzing the impact of severe tropical cyclone yasi on public health infrastructure and the management of noncommunicable diseases. Having seen first hand the damage of Yasi, and knowing well the pervasive impact of noncommunicable diseases, this research tackles an issue relevant for all jurisdictions in our (at-times) temperamental home.
We continue our post-Marcia clean-up, but the latest sandbags are staying in close reach!