Writing in spiked, Tim Black contrasts the coverage of the Queensland floods with the actual conditions on the ground:
as the coverage of Queensland's misfortune has unfolded, the hype and fear-stoking has increased: the number of people in need of evacuation is supposedly in the thousands; myriad unscrupulous looting types are waiting in the watery wings; saltwater crocodiles have supposedly been sighted making their way into Rockhampton; and, as a headline in the UK's Daily Telegraph declared, residents are 'facing a plague of deadly snakes as waters rise'. Given the Old Testament tone of some of the coverage, it is little wonder Queensland treasurer Andrew Fraser told reporters that 'in many ways, it's a disaster of biblical proportions'….
The reality, however, has been a little different. People have not panicked. And many have not fled. It is telling that in Rockhampton, the largest town severely affected by the flooding, an evacuation centre was established for a possible 1,500 people. On 2 January, it housed just 50. In fact, according to Queensland premier Anna Bligh, so far around 4,000 people have been evacuated. This is certainly not an insignificant number—about the population of a biggish village—but it is certainly not the mass exodus reporters were forecasting.
The same goes for the anticipated epidemic of looting. Rather than people seizing an opportunity to nick stuff, as some commentators disparagingly assumed, the police revealed that thefts and break-ins are actually below average for the New Year period.
Queensland residents, despite the taxing conditions, have simply been far more reasoned and composed than many in the media and the authorities seemed to anticipate.