Cyclone Yasi and Media Storms

As the South-East part of the state recovers and rebuilds following the floods, the North and Far-North Queensland communities are bracing for the most severe cyclone we have ever seen.  Tropical Cyclone Yasi will hit tonight.  Schools have been closed for the rest of the week.  Hospitals have been evacuated.  Airports shut. Roads closed. Thousands and thousands of residents told to flee. This is a very, very serious storm.

(Satellite image at time of post: Bureau of Meteorology)

There is likely to be extensive coverage on television networks for the next 48 hours, possibly longer (particularly in Qld).  Here are some things I learned about the coverage of a natural disaster during the recent floods:

  • It will be incessant.  Expect rolling coverage, and the cancellation of regular programming (including children’s shows).
  • It will be emotional.  Footage will show real people dealing with real feelings.
  • It will be traumatic.  Homes will be destroyed, and lives may be lost.
  • It will be dramatic.  In case a natural disaster isn’t dramatic enough on its own, you can be sure the footage will include carefully selected songs, slow motion scenes, soft focus tear-stained faces and images of precious possessions amid rubble.

My message to you is to protect your children from some of the media storm if they are not directly affected.  It is up to us to expose our children to enough so that they understand what is happening at an age-appropriate level, yet protect them from some of the dramatic footage which they are not emotionally ready to deal with.  As I said with the last natural disaster in my state:

As parents, we have a responsibility to walk our children through times like this – and it isn’t always easy.  Their questions need to be acknowledged, even if we can’t give them answers.  We have to know our kids.  Really know them, in order to help them make sense of the world around them. We have to know how much information they can comprehend.  We have to know how sensitive they are.  We have to know how much they are likely to worry.  We have to know what will reassure them.  We have to know our kids.

Can I ask you to do two things?

  1. Please pray for those directly affected by this disaster.  If you are on twitter you might like to use the hashtag #pray4qld as well as #TCYasi
  2. Turn the TV off. Don’t leave it running, replaying the disaster over and over again in front of your kids.  Watch some together. Answer their questions. Talk about what we can all do to help. Then turn the TV off.

If you would like me, and other readers, to pray for anyone in particular in Yasi’s path, please just leave a comment below. We will hold them in prayer throughout the night and into tomorrow. Blessings, Cath. xx

8 thoughts on “Cyclone Yasi and Media Storms

  1. Excellent advice, it is very easy to get caught up in the disaster and those affected to not think about the little ones at home and how it affects them

  2. So true. It’s very easy to forget just how much they are taking in, even if it appears they aren’t paying attention. My son, at age 2.5 knows the term flood, but thankfully not all that it entails. I have no idea how parents up north who have to experience this are going to prepare their kids for it. Just what do you say?

  3. Hey Cath, would love you to pray for my parent’s, Matt’s parents, both of our grandparents, my sister and her husband and my four nephews under 4, and many of my cousins, uncles, aunts etc and soooooooo many friends in the Far North! They have already lost power and are sounding quite frightened already – please let them all safe!!!

  4. absolutely great advise.
    Now that my children are 10, 9, 7 & 3 – we tuck the 3 year old up in front of kids shows but no longer hide these disasters from the other 3.
    We pray. we give generously to those affected – and include the kids so they learn to be generous. we reasure them- telling them they are safe here and now.
    I am finding it interesting how parenting changes so quickly in so few years.
    We also realise that the media do bleed whatever they can to boost ratings – and sometimes enough is enough and it’s tv off.

  5. We had (mild) storms here in country WA on the weekend from Cyclone Bianca-we got caught in part of it-now my boys (5,3,2) are playing “storms” with Duplo. Building towns then knocking them over, like in the storm. The littlest even hides under the table when the “storm” comes through. We have turned the TV off as they are terrified. Processing through play is very important. I had no idea how much seeing trees get ripped up would effect them. I feel for the kids in QLD! Praying for you all over there.

  6. Great post and good advice. With the floods, I had the tv on quite a lot, though when the children were at daycare. It was odd the way it was almost addictive viewing, but at the same time was also saddened by exactly as you say – the way it was used for maximum drama. Though I wanted as much information as possible I ended up turning to social media which was much more relevant and informative. When the cyclone hit I was enroute to meetings interstate which I was in all day and completely missed the majority of the news coverage – though again got the updates which I cared about (how friends were doing) via sms & social media. I think the “traditional” media with its sensationalism is becoming much less relevant. Thanks for also highlighting the effect that has on our children.

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