Survivor’s tale: over-warned is better than under-prepared
4PM UPDATE: SEE BELOW FOR DAVID’S PICS FROM MAGNETIC ISLAND TODAY
Regular Punch reader and commenter David Pierce spent the night in his weatherboard home on Magnetic Island, 8km off Townsville, bunkered down against the fury of Cyclone Yasi with his wife and two children.
“My darkest moment came when the wind shifted and stuff was breaking up and hitting the house,” he told The Punch this morning. “The worst part was not knowing what was hitting the house.”
Fortunately, Pierce and his family got though the night. (Check the wind gusts at a nearby weather station on this link). And as he spends today cleaning up the debris in his yard, he has no doubt why Yasi’s human toll has been so low.
Pierce, a former Canberran, was living in the capital during the January 2003 bushfires, which claimed four lives and destroyed more than 500 houses.
His assessment of why Canberrans lost their lives in 2003, while this event (at the time of writing) is still fatality-free? Adequate warnings.
A management consultant who is based on Magnetic Island, David Pierce is no apologist for Anna Bligh, especially on the economic front.
Indeed, he gave her quite a serve in this comment on Mal Farr’s thread, which Pierce dramatically typed and emailed from his bathroom floor at 1.45 am (Qld time) this morning.
Malcolm I’m sitting on the floor in the dark using my laptop on batteries and a head light to read while outside the rain is teeming down and the wind is banging against the walls of my house. I’m on Magnetic Island, we’re stuck - no ferries so we’re riding out the storm. Fortunately we didn’t get the worst of it - well not yet… The aftermath is what I expect to hurt. The levy is required only because of the ineptitude of the Queensland ALP government, its inability to manage a state and the way to bail it out is make Australians pay more tax. Mate you’ve got it all wrong. I hope Abbott makes Gillard and Bligh fight for every dollar they want us to pay for their mismanagement. Why should Australia have to incur more cost because of their failures, they need to manage and do what I do when I’m faced with disaster - cut the fat to cover the cost. Let the Queensland Government pull itself out of this one without Swan putting his hands - once again - in my paypacket. I’d be more disappointed with Abbott if he didn’t call the Government to account. So as I sit in the dark with my family sleeping on the floor in the bathroom I can tell you again that you’ve got it wrong. You’re quite welcome to come to my place and discuss it further
On the logistical front, however, Pierce gives a hearty two thumbs up to both Bligh, and deputy police commissioner Ian Stewart, who has flanked the Qld premier at most of her briefings.
For at least two days, Bligh, Stewart, the Bureau of Meteorology and various other agencies have been giving regular calm but urgent warnings like the one in the video at the top of this piece. For cyclone zone residents like David Pierce, they have been invaluable.
“One of the things I have been really impressed with is the extent to which the emergency services and Anna Bligh have been so thorough in their briefings. I think this contributed to the [state of preparedeness],” Pierce said.
As Pierce and most Canberrans would attest, residents of Canberra’s western flank were not so well-served back in 2003, as ACT chief Minister Jon Stanhope stood by and did the nearest thing to bugger all, even as Canberra was ringed by flames.
Yet incredibly, there is already an undercurrent of online opinion emerging that Queenslanders were overwarned, and that some of the evacuations were unnecessary - especially in Cairns, which was spared the kind of damage Yasi wreaked on towns like Mission Beach.
David Pierce – whose children rode out the storm playing their Nintendo DS’s – would take overwarned over under-prepared any day.
“For those of us that stayed, the briefings from the deputy commissioner were very practical and objective and very reassuring,” he said.
Canberrans in 2003, Towoombans in 2011 and plenty more Australians in a range of other disasters can only wish they’d been as well briefed as David Pierce and his fellow north Queenslanders in the Cyclone Yasi emergency.
4PM UPDATE: HERE ARE SOME OF DAVID’S PICS, TAKEN ON MAGNETIC ISLAND TODAY
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