For the past two weeks we have been inundated with pictures and words from Queensland and specifically Brisbane about the flooding there. How tragic it is for the residents who have seen their homes and belongings swept away; of course, worse still for the families of the people who have lost their lives. The news editors for television, radio and print have ensured that every time we turn on, we are exposed to the tragedy.
Rain has been falling in biblical proportions across the globe, resulting in death and destruction.
I began a little bit of research – Today we here that “More than 420 people have now been killed by flooding and mudslides in south-eastern Brazil, officials say”. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-12180079).
I read about flooding in Sri Lanka – a huge area of the island has been battered by rains for the entire month; nearly 1.8 meters of rain, (1.65m is the annual average rainfall) killing 23, making in excess of 325,000 homeless and destroying 21% of the country’s rice crop.
Also, as many as “an estimated 18,000 children will die this year – 50 a day – in drowning accidents in Bangladesh, one of the most flood-prone parts of the world, according to the International Drowning Research Centre in Bangladesh (IDRC-B)”.
I was unaware that “the best scientific evidence available has taught us that 1.2 million people around the world die by drowning every year” (http://www.ilsf.org/index.php?q=en/drowning/facts).
Natural disasters hit communities hard but they have a much greater impact on the poor than the rich. Brisbane houses have been battered and damaged, but the death toll remains relatively low. In Brazil, the poorest people build houses without foundations on mountainsides that are prone to being washed away by deadly mudslides. Brisbane will rebuild – even though we were told by the state principal that the “building will need to be on a post-war scale”. Who is going to pay for re-builds in Sri Lanka or Brazil? Maybe the same people who promised a year ago that Port-au-Prince would be rebuilt too. The Haitians are still waiting.
There is no hierarchy of tragedies – an individual’s suffering is a personal catastrophe, but perhaps the news editors – or perhaps censors – should put news from around the world into perspective.