Featured Image Credit: Qld Fire & Emergency via Twitter
By Emily Persico
Government officials initiated a warning days in advance, sounding the alarms for an evacuation. Cyclone Debbie was coming, bringing 163 mph winds, pervasive flooding, and danger to all in her path. What they didn’t warn residents about, however, was the massive shark lurking in the middle of the road just beneath the surface of the floodwaters.
“You never know what lurks beneath the surface during a severe storm and what will wash up in the aftermath,” heeds Queensland Fire and Emergency services. “Don’t go in the floodwater.”
About five cyclones make landfall each year in Tropical Australia. Because of this, people get complacent, wandering into floodwaters and assuming they are safe. Unfortunately, you can never know what lies beneath the murky surface water.
The bull shark found in North Queensland in the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie is proof of just that. Bull sharks are considered highly dangerous to humans. Although the shark was dead when it was found, its discovery was nothing to laugh about. These aggressive predators can get up to almost 12 feet in length and 500 pounds in weight.
“Underestimating the force of nature is the biggest mistake most people make,” explains Bob Cooper, an outback survival instructor.
— Philip Calder (@philipjcalder) March 30, 2017
Thousands of people were forced to evacuate in preparation for Debbie, a category four storm with no remorse for its hosts. While no one besides the shark died in her forceful winds, six people died in her aftermath. The reason why: failure to stay out of dangerous floodwaters, which were clearly brimming with all sorts of dangers.
“With climate change we are seeing increased ferocity and frequency of these sorts of events,” explains Reverend Dr. Stephen Robinson of Uniting Church national disaster recovery team. “That is not going to go away.”
We’re just going to have to get better at accommodating disaster.