January 16, 2011

floods and people

The rain.  All that rain brought chaos and carnage to Brisbane.  I can't really begin to summarise what the last few days felt like, it's all been rather surreal and, I suppose, ironic that after so many years of drought, Queensland is now flood ravaged.

If we had been a metre lower, or I should say if the river had peaked the way they had originally predicted, we would probably be waiting for power to be reconnected and cleaning up what would feel like an impossible mess.  Instead, we saw the water peak to only 60m from our house, which is apparently where the river peaked in the famous 1974 floods.  As we became an island, we saw our neighbours' houses completely submerged, roads turned into lakes and landmarks and favourite spots drowned but we have remained safe and dry, albeit without power.

On Tuesday when we heard that the CBD was being evacuated, I went out and stocked up as best I could for the coming days, not really knowing what we would need and whether we would be prepared.  We brought the barbecue upstairs, got ice for the esky, cooked up lentils and made sure we had enough of everything to last a week or so.  I washed clothes, moved things from under our (thankfully) raised house up onto our deck so that if the worst happened and the water made it as far as our house, at least we might have minimised the damage.  We debated leaving, and I packed a bag for the kids so that we could do it easily if we needed to, but in the end we stayed and it was the right decision for us, thanks to Will's persistent referral of the town's flood maps and the Council's predictions.  And, his analysis was right - we stayed dry, and for that, I am thankful, as watching and helping those who have not been so lucky has highlighted just how massive a clean up job lies ahead.  Our suburb, one of the worst affected now resembles a favela, debris and mud everywhere, and the army is manning our street, trying to control traffic and assist with the clean up.

Max and Ollie.  Almost oblivious to the chaos.  I have to say, that on reflection, Ollie was most accepting of the fact that he was unable to sleep with the hall light on or listen to his Pooh Bear and Jungle Book cds because there was 'no power, power's gone', and he doesn't watch much tv so I don't think he even noticed that it wasn't working.  I think Ollie liked seeing the water in the streets and his new look neighbourhood (we were waterfront for a day or so there).  Max enjoyed the novelty of having both parents home and doting on his smiley little being and it was a good thing that they both ate what they were given and enjoyed our makeshift cooking and refrigeration methods.  Ollie loves playing with eskies.  Funny kid.

I wonder whether in 20 years' time we will be those people that talk about the 2011 floods the way people talk about the 1974 floods.  I doubt it.  In all honesty, apart from having to be inventive with the barbecue and doing everything by candlelight (it's not as romantic as you would think), for us it has been a pretty boring few days and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.  Boring is good.  Boring is safe.  We may not have any stories to tell our friends and family but that's a good thing.  My overarching feeling is one of gratitude and well, good fortune to have had so much kindness around us.  We really have felt the love with every single phone call, text message, email and facebook message.  Not to mention the offers of a home away from home which came from all manner of places.  I can't wait for it to happen, but it's going to take a long to time get back to normal in this city we call home, and I guess that will be a story in itself, but for the mean time, it's a blessing we have such love around us.  People are good.

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