New media

The 'boys' and the Trinity Beach Lifesaving Hut

Life is settling down again after Yasi. Think I may even have a slight hang-over this morning from drinking too much champagne with friends last night to celebrate being alive and well… (Oh and Chinese New Year – I’m a rabbit so this is MY year!)

For me this cyclone has been a very different experience to previous ones. This time we didn’t lose power or phones or internet and we were connected to the world in a way we never have been before.

Wednesday morning, as the storm was gathering momentum, my brother emailed me to say he’d recommended me to an ABC journalist. As I waited to go to air with Angela Owens from mid-western NSW I could hear the weather report for Orange. It was going to be a hot steamy day there as well. It felt surreal.

My sister sent my contact details to the BBC and I found myself talking to people in Birmingham, Coventry and London as well as BBC World News. Each time I got a brief glimpse into another city’s day as I waited on the line to be interviewed.

A gentleman from The Melbourne Age, one of Australia’s most credible newspapers, emailed to ask if I’d do a piece for the Saturday edition. ‘Tell us what it’s really like from a writer’s perspective.’ I was flattered and terrified at the same time. What do I know about writing for a newspaper? (Here’s the link to the piece – they published it on-line as well as in the paper edition – The Age)

Later that night, as the storm raged around us, I was tweeting about the cyclone and seeing those tweets being retweeted by people in different countries. Text messages kept us in constant contact with friends in Cairns and the rest of Australia. (The most common one in Cairns was Β ‘Power’s gone.’) The internet remained connected so we tracked the eye of the storm on the Bureau of Meteorology’s website, watching as the immense system roared in. At one stage the main ADSL service went down, but my mobile broadband still worked. We knew from those images where and when the worst of the weather was going to hit.

Face Book messages from the many friends and colleagues in Cairns kept us in touch with those we didn’t have phone contact with.

At 6 am, the morning after the Yasi, the texts started arriving and it was relatively easy to check on people. Since then I’ve had emails from local people who were overseas Β and who followed the storm’s progress on my blog. Several found my site by accident and, for them, it was the only way of getting direct news on the situation in Trinity Beach.

I know none of this helped the people who’ve had their homes and livelihoods destroyed by Yasi but, for those watching from the sidelines, the media in all it’s guises provided a unique insight and up to date information. I’ve always been a traditional media kind of girl – give me a good newspaper and a cup of coffee and I’m a happy little vegemite – but after Yasi I’m a convert to new media.


14 thoughts on “New media

  1. As usual, a week after everyone else.
    What can I say, but, “wow!”
    Congratulations on surviving Yasi, and on the superb piece in the Age.
    Took an altimeter down to where the creek ‘high’ water came to: Phew, still 10 feet to the back door. You don’t consider potential flood when you’re on top of a mountain range, somehow…
    Do you suppose we can all get back to ‘normal’ now?

  2. Thanks, Nicola. You’ve also had weather dramas this year and whatever mother nature tossers our way each one is as confronting as the other.

    Carol it was truly a different experience from those we’ve been through before. And thanks for tracking me down on FB πŸ™‚

  3. Brilliant article. I believe social media comes into its own when natural disasters occur. With the weather map, twitter feeds, facebook reports and Nth QLD internet radio playing in the background, it was live, up-to-the-minute happening and we could feel Yasi’s ferocity despite being thousands of km away. I could also feel a groundswell of love and support been sent to you guys over the bandwidths. Well done on capturing this event for the media.
    Good luck with the book launch. (Enjoyed Border Watch!)

  4. Ta Maree πŸ™‚ We’re very luck to have escaped the worst of Yasi…

    Thanks Kerri. I was a weird week because it was release day for Shattered Sky on Tuesday, Yasi arrived Wednesday late and then my anniversary was Sunday. It all just rolled into a blur! I’m looking forward to the book launch celebration this Friday night – should be fun!!

  5. Hey Helene, great article and great that you’re all okay. Can’t imagine how scary it was nor how you had the presence of mind to get it all down – but I guess our senses are on overload in times like his. Made the anniversary celebs all that much sweeter, eh?
    Take care honey,

  6. WOW! Awesome article, Helene. Gave me chills just reading it and imagining going through it with you. Gee. Anyone would think you’re a really talented author after reading that article πŸ˜‰

    Seriously though, I’m so relieved you’re all ok.

  7. Thanks guys. It was weird writing in Kylie with so much going on and it was largely done in the wee small hours… Hubbie kept coming in and blinking owlishly at me and going back to bed.

    Back to work this morning – just heading out now – and I guess things will then start to feel normal again.

    Thanks for all your good wishes both during and after Yasi πŸ™‚

  8. Helene, the Age article is fabulous! And to do it so soon after and while you’re probably still cleaning up or helping others.

    I do hope our dog survived the night OK – did you end up sedating him?

    Am so grateful you guys are safe and well. πŸ™‚

  9. Helene,
    Well done, and yes, social media sure has helped through all Qld’s dramas lately,
    Great way to spread the word quickly,
    Congrats on your article,

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