Wednesday, March 22, 2006


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At least a hundred Innisfail houses were destroyed, hundreds more lost their roofs. Photo by Mark Baker/AP, taken from the Sydney Morning Herald website.


The world got to see just how Queenslanders coped with the aftermath of the most powerful storm to hit the Australian coastline in almost 100 years yesterday.

Some were furious at what they said was a slow rollout of emergency workers and soldiers, bringing food and water to towns cut off from the outside world by a lack of electricity and roads completely blocked by fallen trees.

Innisfail resident Ailsa Crotto told the Sydney Morning Herald that she hoped she would run into Prime Minister John Howard when he visited the storm savaged town today.

"I'm going to give him a bloody earful. What help are we going to get?" she demanded.

Howard was the focus for much anger across talk radio in North Queensland yesterday, after he visited the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, instead of heading straight to the disaster zone.

Nobody would have been surprised to see and hear anger, frustration and tears from people who had lost their homes and their livelihoods, but millions of international television viewers saw somethin else from many of the Australians interviewed by roaming news humours.

Jokes, laughs and black, black humour.

A number of people writing on media comment boards in England, France, Germany, Russia and the US, have been surprised and stunned by the jokes cracked by numerous Innisfail residents as they picked through the remains of their homes.

Footage from Australian television of the day-after-the-disaster has been shown right around the world

"What is it with those Aussies?" one comment to a French website read. "They lost their homes, their whole town is destroyed, but they think it's funny?"

"Americans screamed for help after Katrina," wrote a German, "Australians instead have laughs."

They may have been reacting to comments likes these made by Innisfail residents only hours after the cyclone had shredded the roofs from hundreds of homes allowing heavy rain to saturate their belongings. Each of the televised quotes from Innisfail residents below were followed by hearty laughter.

"I only brought this house two weeks ago, it didn't have an indoor pool back then. Now it's got one. "

"My neighbour thought he'd be safe hiding in the cupboard with a biscuit tin on his head."

"I'm living in my car. That means I don't have to get out of bed to drive to the shops."

"I didn't used to allow smoking in the house - but there's plenty of fresh air now," one woman said as she lit a cigarette in her roofless home.

"The carpets are ruined....I hated that bloody those bloody carpets anyway."

"I didn't used to allow smoking in the house - but there's plenty of fresh air now," one woman said as she lit a cigarette in her roofless home.