x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Australia stands firm

At the height of January's floods in Australia, many homes in Brisbane were flooded beyond repair. Tragically, 18 people lost their lives, and hundreds were left homeless. Considering the scale of the deluge, it is a credit to the people and rescue services involved that these numbers were not disastrously higher.

And if the flood waters and mud streams weren't enough, bull sharks were even spotted swimming through the flooded streets of a small town in Queensland. Elsewhere, residents were told to beware of wandering crocodiles. As the waters receded, the damage that was revealed demanded a "post-war reconstruction effort", according to officials.

These challenges were met with typical defiance by the local population, and a remarkable clean up operation commenced as the waters receded. This resilience may be required in the days to come as Cyclone Yasi last night hit the coast of the northern Australia near the city of Cairns in Queensland.

The category 5 cyclone was potentially the most catastrophic in the country's history. Thousands of Queenslanders headed for evacuation centres. For others it was too late to escape, as they stocked up on food and bunkered down, protecting themselves from the unprecedented gale winds and coastal floods.

Australians will ride out this storm as they have done others in the past. Cyclone Yasi may cause untold material damage, but their spirit will remain unbreakable.