Lessons from nature

The storms of life, natural disasters or manmade, teach us a lot about ourselves. Like how much we don’t control, and how well we handle adversity. We’ve had plenty of opportunities to learn them lately…

How’d we do, folks in those regions hit by back-to-back violent outbursts of nature?

Tales in the aftermath. Of cyclone Yasi

On Mission Beach, power cables crashed on to the roads and mature trees and palms were toppled by surging winds but local residents also reported a surreal half-hour in the calm eye of the storm, when they popped outside with torches, checked up on neighbours and gazed at the momentarily clear sky.

See that? People are looking in on their neighbors, checking on who needs help, even when everyone is under threat. Especially when everyone is under threat. Crisis brings out the best in us.

And there are these amazing stories

A baby was born at a Cairns evacuation centre and two more in Innisfail Hospital amid the chaos and devastation as Cyclone Yasi hammered north Queensland overnight.

Cairns councillor Linda Cooper says Akiko Pruss went into labour at the evacuation centre at Redlynch State College at 2:45am…

An English midwife called Carol, who is celebrating her 25th wedding anniversary on holidays in Cairns, delivered the baby, Ms Cooper said.

Then there are the tales from the ‘monster storm’, at the height of the blizzard

The family huddled together in their car for a couple hours. But then the car battery went dead, Wu said.

With no emergency responders in sight, Wu’s husband ran to the car parked behind his and asked if they could take in his daughter and pregnant wife.

Wu said she was grateful for the woman’s generosity, but was still scared once they relocated to the warmer car because both her and her husband’s cell phones were dead.

“I just worried about my husband and being separated,” said Wu…

And love finds a way in this otherwise dreadful story…

In cars, after watching their gas gauges falling, drivers tried desperately to keep their vehicles idling long enough with heaters on full blast to warm them up before turning off the ignition to keep from running out of gas.

People called family and friends on cell phones, as much to get information and ask to be rescued as relay what was going on — mostly because nobody knew.

Carolyn Pirotte, a 28-year-old nurse, just waited in her car and talked to her husband on the cell phone. He caught a ride as far as he could get, then started walking. He peered into windows until he spotted her just before midnight, six hours after her ordeal began.

He climbed in and waited with her for three hours until firefighters took them to a warming center at a nearby hospital.

It happens in times of disaster, when people are threatened or hurt or worse. We call our loved ones and tell them we love them. We check with family members and look in on neighbors. We reach out to assist what some would call absolute strangers, but in times of crisis there are no strangers. The Chicago blizzard tales include the one where the woman finally got home, after hours of being stranded on the road, and two men spent over an hour digging out a space to park her car. The news report called them “two absolute strangers.”

Nature continues to be very, very strange. But for all the catastrophe it wreaks, human nature continually proves to be a reassuring constant.


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