An ‘Ellie of a storm

EDIT: Looks like BOM have removed Ellie’s tracking image thing. So there’s no image for you to watch anymore.

That heading is bad. Really bad. If you didn’t bother reading to the end of my last post, and haven’t been listening to your local ABC today – you may not be aware there’s a cyclone coming for North Queensland. It’s no big deal. Unless you haven’t been in a cyclone before, then perhaps you should tape up your windows, fill your baths with water (unless they’re outdoors – then there’s a dengue risk), buy lots of canned food, batteries and candles (although you should read this first).

What I think is particularly funny about cyclones is what it reveals about the inner psyche of North Queensland. North Queensland is demographically bi-polar. A 50/50 split between “locals” (those who have been here all their lives, or for longer than 20 years) and us “ring ins” who are here for a couple of years of “career progression” only to pull up stumps and leave. Townsville has a massively transient population thanks to the army, the university and the mining industry. It makes for an interesting dynamic all year round – but particularly when there’s a storm brewing. 

There are two reactions to a cyclone’s impending intersection with the coast line. The understated approach, preferred by locals, where you insult “ring ins” for making a fuss. Point out “this is only a category one”. We’ve been through much bigger before. Pick up potential flying objects from your yard, and go about your daily business almost as usual. 

The other reaction is what leads to mile long lines at the grocery store and a region wide shortage of milk and survival equiptment. 

I subscribe to my friends Facebook status updates via RSS (which is pretty cool because it gets around the workplace Facebook ban) – and I’m thinking that I might collate responses to cyclone related Facebook status updates to use social networking to report impending disaster – that’s the done thing these days. What do you think Facebook friends/blog readers? Is this a horrible invasion of your privacy – I’m looking at you Leah and Stuss.

The author

Nathan runs St Eutychus. He loves Jesus. His wife. His daughter. His son. His other daughter. His dog. Coffee. And the Internet. He is the campus pastor at Creek Road South Bank, a graduate of Queensland Theological College (M. Div) and the Queensland University of Technology (B. Journ). He spent a significant portion of his pre-ministry-as-a-full-time-job life working in Public Relations, and now loves promoting Jesus in Brisbane and online. He can't believe how great it is that people pay him to talk and think about Jesus.

16 thoughts on “An ‘Ellie of a storm”

  1. I don’t know if you noticed this already, but facebook IS public. I’m surprised facebook isn’t already issuing cyclone warnings based on postcode.

    I happen to be one of the locals. I just watch the latest warning update and act accordingly. I’ll probably bring the outside chairs undercover tonight, I suppose. It would have to be a category three on my doorstop before i put together a cyclone survival kit! And I”m not stupid enough to go to the shops straight after a cyclone warning has been issued.

  2. Invasion of privacy? Haha NO. If someone doesn’t want something to be known, they shouldn’t be putting it on facebook haha.

    I’m with Stuss. It would have to be a Cat 3 before I start buying extra tinned food and batteries. All I’ve done in prep for this one is turn our outdoors table upside down and pull the chairs up along the back wall. The table especially is quite heavy so I doubt any of it will move, but it does have a glass top so I didn’t want to risk it flipping and smashing. (Even though I realise it’s probably reinforced and wouldn’t smash from something as small as falling on its side!)

    Like you said- eliminating possible projectiles from backyard, and continuing on with life.

    My parents-in-law went into Woolies today to pick up some extra stuff for lunch- bad move. They said the lines were right down to the freezer section, right in the corner where the milk is kept. Another friend said she was in line for half an hour.

    And I haven’t been listening to local ABC – but National ABC is my alarm, so I heard about it while half asleep and trying to ignore the alarm this morning :P

    (Speaking of National ABC as an alarm, yesterday I was woken by the voice of Serena Williams. NOBODY should be subjected to a loud American accent at that time of morning.)

  3. It can’t be getting too much national recognition. My MIL hasn’t rung yet to see if we know there is a cyclone warning current and if we are okay.
    Why would it be on the news anyway? There is a record breaking heatwave in the Centre Of The Universe.

  4. Upon double-checking with Andre, our radio is actually set to ABC Classic FM.

    Surely a cyclone in NQ would be even less likely to find its way onto ABC Classic?? (I’m guessing they use the same news bulletins as ABC National).

    1. I think it’s just a “local ABC” thing. Not sure though, but I think the Classic FM broadcast comes out of Sydney.

  5. That’s probably it, the phones are down.

    Actually, they must be. In a rare situtation this morning I put on the today show news. I don’t think anyone could get through to channel nine. THey didn’t seem to know.

  6. Yup ABC Classical comes out of Sydney. Sunrise has also had two articles on Ex-Cyclone Ellie this morning… on one, they interviewed the Cairns mayor who obviously had very little idea what was going on coz the cyclone didn’t go near them (she actually said “there’s some very heavy rain down in the Townsville area”). On the other, apparently the cyclone was in “far north queensland” and crossed “just south of Cairns”.

    1. I like that Cairns was in the firing line as far as the Sydney media was concerned. Unfortunately Channel Ten ran a story last night linking the cyclone, dengue fever, the collapse of Storm, job losses in the mining industry and potential floods into one big package. A big package that basically said “only live in Townsville if you want to live in poverty and take your life into your own hands.”

    1. For what reason. Previously I would have agreed based purely on production values – Sports Tonight had so much cooler music than other news programs. But this has changed. Sports Tonight has stayed the same while the other channels have introduced terrific music. Queensland Weekender the other day had some Radiohead, some Modest Mouse and some other very, very cool music.

      Channel Ten’s news is broadly speaking the least likely to be biased – but that’s because it’s the least likely to have content.

    1. I hate phone polls. I hate the way opt-in surveys are used as an indication of the population’s thinking on a topic.

      Opt-in surveys attract people with vested interest in the topics.

      Telephone polls are blatant revenue raising for the networks. Say they get 1,000 votes a day at 55 cents a pop – that’s $200,750 a year and a very cheap little segment to produce.

  7. But the questions are worded in a way that gets people to respond with the desired answer.

    Channel Ten is also home to a lot of shows that are built entirely on people voting via mobile phone. I’m surprised they need anyway to advertise on their network at all.

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