Sunday, March 15, 2015

Cyclone Pam Likely To Become "Biggest Disaster In Decades.."

Tropical cyclone Pam struck the island nation of Vanuatu dead on, only a few hours ago, and it is shaping up to be one of the biggest journalistic disasters in many years.

" 'Six known dead' - that's been the headline for over 24 hours!  Where are the bodies?  How can we keep the paying audience interested in a dead headline- where the photos of lines of body bags- turn out to be lines of sleeping bags, not corpses?!?" said "Katastrophe Kate", the globe-trotting specialist for Rooters SNews Service. (

"It's really horrifying- we managed to milk a couple of "OMG it's all gone!" statements from  a few NGO nerds huddled in hotels; but all the photos and video feeds are showing exactly the opposite!  It's looking like a minor thunderstorm passed through.   We just don't know how long we can keep up the pretense that this is a big deal.

"Luckily, very few of our viewers know that original local architecture is designed - from thousands of years of experience- to blow over in heavy winds, and then be rebuilt from the same materials, in a matter of days.  And Vanuatu is one of the few places left where the local people still have the skills to do this.  Sure, there will be a few deaths; but nothing like the 6,000 dead from Typhoon Whatsit in the Philippines a while back.  And we're getting a few pics of "halfway" buildings that look messy- homes that are part native design, with "modern" bits that blew down tacked on; but the darn people keep smiling; and it's just a bit hard to sell "this poor man now has nowhere to live!" - when he's sitting on a bench under a nice roof...

"Pam is just not generating the bodies and images we need- waving palm fronds are great for a couple hours, but then we need some really good smashed up stuff; and so far, we're not getting it.  The downtown areas- were pretty clearly actually built to survive typhoon winds- a couple broken windows and one piece of roofing blowing around is just not - enough.

"Thank god we can depend on the John Frum guys for really good quotes designed to bring in "relief" flights.  But, there is a limit to how far that can stretch.  It's a word no one wants to hear- but we're becoming seriously afraid that this disaster is just going to prove- unsustainable.

"As of today, this is shaping up to be one of the biggest disaster failures in recent history.  Thank god- our audience is easily distracted from reality collapses- all we need is one good new cat video; and they'll forget the whole thing.  Kat-ass Kate, reporting too live, from Port Vila; most of which is still here, dammit."


(Ok, not trying to make fun of Vanuatu, in any way, or be skeptical about their need for help after what was definitely a bad cyclone.  But.  My guess is, once the information comes in from the "remote" islands- yes, their houses may have blown down- as they are designed to do; but I'm betting their elders- who are still in place- probably got most of the people into a safe place, known to them for centuries at least, to wait out the wind.  We'll see.  Fingers crossed, and I'm betting on the elders.  And meanwhile; Tuvalu and Kiribati- nations with no mountains to provide rainwater streams and shelter- have also been hit by Pam.  Harm there could be much, much larger.  We hope and pray not.)


knutty knitter said...

It mostly missed us :) Just surface flooding and some monster surf up north. It's now heading for the Chatham Islands but looks like it will mostly miss them too. Nice storm - pat, pat pat.....


Anonymous said...

I read that there are caves all over Vanuatu and that they have been (and were) used in times of cyclone. So no body bags... the locals know where to secret themselves during big storms.