Who knew a bloke could do so much damage?
In the wake of Cyclone Larry, described as “Cyclone Tracy’s bigger brother” by Johnstone
Shire mayor Neil Clarke, people have been walking around like “stunned
mullets”.

Larry, the most powerful cyclone in nearly a century, with winds of up to 290 kph,
has left thousands of people in northern Queensland homeless, reduced
the town of Innisfail to a “bomb site” and destroyed about $300 million
worth of banana and sugar crops, says The Oz.

As Electron Soup puts it, Cyclone Larry’s devastating impact is about to be felt in supermarkets
across Australia, as it has reportedly destroyed up to 80% of
Australia’s avocado crops, and 95% of its bananas. In some places, banana prices have doubled overnight,
with Sydney expected to face an “acute shortage” in as little as three
weeks. Meanwhile, “what’s the bet that fruit retailers – taking a leaf from petrol
stations – decide to put up prices instantly, instead of after they have purchased more expensive fruit?”

But some are impressed at the lack of damage, particularly in the
US where they know a little something about cyclones (or hurricanes
as they call them – there’s a handy explanation of cyclone nomenclature
by Ned Potter on ABC (US) News).

Cyclone Larry, a Force 5
hurricane as powerful as Katrina, made landfall and caused catastrophic
damage,
writes Shaun D Mullen at Kiko’s House, yet it has not “taken a single life“. This begs the question: What do the Aussies do differently?

I’m interested
to see how the government response is rolled out, says Daffodillane. “For those of you who don’t know, the Australians have a ‘Conservative’ government in power
currently. Now we see what the concept of Conservative means in this
country…it’s practically easily substituted for incompetent and
moronic. I have
to say I’m already more impressed with the fact that they’ve already
opened up the flow of money to keep people alive instantly, not
something that can be said for our ‘Conservative’ government.”

Even so, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer
isn’t getting too carried away with Larry-Katrina
comparisons. The cyclones may have looked similar – “swirling storm
bearing down on coastal areas with frightening inevitability” – but in
Queensland’s case, the population was much smaller, “there was no
offshore oil industry
to be disrupted, as happened on
the Gulf Coast” and the region’s biggest draw, the diving mecca of the
Great Barrier Reef, “escaped largely undamaged”.

Peter Fray

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