Deadly Floods

News of a man who has passed away on Wednesday morning. Flash across the screen of my phone. I have been hearing reports of no deaths in the so-called “fifty-year storm” event that we are having, correction we were having. The rain fell from Wednesday last week till Tuesday this week. Wednesday was the first day of sun and heat, which brought out the deadly funnel-web spider and people wanting to go to the beach. Yes, even during floods, some people still venture out to rivers and beaches. Don’t get me wrong; I have done it before too. I was also a teenager, and well, I wasn’t afraid of dying. Plus, there is a certain thrill to surfing in murky waters, the barrels filled with debris and the odd occasional log rearing its ugly head to hit you as you holler through a monster keg.

I’m no longer young; in fact, those crazy times were over half my life ago. Even then I knew the risks of floods and the effects it has on our rivers and oceans. Before the storm made its way down to the big city, warnings broadcast over all mediums. “Do not try and cross flooded areas no matter how high your car is.” Rain, strong winds, and even a mini-tornado crossed a suburb not far from where I live. I warned the wife of the impending storm while driving through it myself. It is incredible how many people think they are smarter than mother nature or stronger. Young drivers mixed with old driving like they are on a race track. They were swerving in and out of lanes, hitting water puddles at full speed. It is no wonder why some people should be made sterile, kill off the weakest links to society. Alas, we cannot cull every idiot in the world. Still, it is fun to think about it, like a realistic version of Fortnite, where suburbs get dropped into a Killzone, and only a few remaining are allowed to continue reproducing. But this is another topic altogether. 

The news reports asked for those who can work from home to reduce the risks on the roads, no option to just stop work, nope society must go on. And it did; places flooded, houses floated away, and cows ended up in the ocean. Yet those bosses expected you to be at that job on time. It took me almost two hours to get to work yesterday. Yes, two hours. Traffic was insane. Road closures due to flooded areas creating havoc even though the sun was now shining. The premiere rejoicing at how glad there had been no deaths in the state. A great outcome for what was a potentially deadly weather pattern. Well, for humans, it was a good outcome. Many farm animals, natural wildlife, and pets suffered a far worse fate, and only a year after the fires destroyed the land.

Coming across the article again on Facebook, I read the column; it was brief. Maybe it was due to lack of information provided, respect for the family, or a quick post to compete with the influx of news corporations smashing down on the story. The comments on the Facebook link were juicy, though.
The death of a Pakistani. His first day of a new job, in a hire car. Stirred, like a spoon in honey. Racial tensions were rising. If he were an Aussie, the police would have rescued him. Why were there no police choppers? Why were they not out there? Australia is a racist country, words straight from keyboard warriors. These words flooded (pun intended) the comments sections by people with names that could only be described as Indian, Pakistani, and Sri Lankin.

The reports stated that the young man called after hitting the water. Although indications showed damage to the interior as though he had tried to escape while dealing with a faulty electrical system, did he leave it too late to try breaking the car window? Was he driving too fast for the conditions? Which could have stopped him from breaking the glass due to the pressure of the rising water. Some reports say that he had a strong connection in the cities west, but he must have known the area? At least to some extent. The site has flood warnings, not just one, either. Maybe he was already on the phone. I have known many truck drivers of those nationalities, and even the Uber eats delivery drivers. They are constantly on the phone, either with their friends, families, other women, or, if need be, their bosses. It can be hard to deal with at times, at work, trying to get things done, and they speak in their native tongues and ignore the rest of us or their surroundings. 

Maybe the early morning run, six in the morning, the light just coming through, the corner is taken at the speed limit, the reaction speed being slow being that time of morning didn’t help. The comments stating that he was on the phone for so long without any response by first callers, The nearest police station to that area is back at the command base, not close. Others were saying phones have GPS signaling they should have found him quickly. Gps tracking isn’t instant and not precisely accurate you still need to go looking in a localized area.

The search continued, and found the young man’s car and body around 1 pm. Thirty meters away from the road and six feet underwater. The interior’s damage described by police as chaos—a person, was struggling to live, tearing apart the interior to find a way out. 

A loss of life is always sad, but I wonder if they put themself in harm’s way. What I mean is, those who freedive, those who free-climb or perform stunts in dangerous environments, intentionally put their lives on the line, with the floodwaters rising and areas alerted in news sites, as a no-go zone did he willingly head towards danger? I guess we will never know for sure, and it will probably be a question on the minds of the young man’s friends and family for a while to come. 

As for the racial tension that fulled the comment section, if someone is in danger, most people will respond; they will try to help unless the risk of their life is too significant. Had the incident happened in a more suburbian environment instead of a rural I am sure his life may have been spared. Unfortunately, he was too far away from immediate help and rescue. It had nothing to do with the color of his skin or his birthplace. Sadly, some people will make it about themselves and their race even in natural disasters. 

Stephen Blyse

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