Wednesday, January 12, 2011

We've never experienced anything like it...and it's far from over

We love a good drama and Queensland has had plenty of it in the last few days.

I hope you will forgive my irony but it is hard not to be stung by it in what has been a horror show.  I know some of you have been treated to images and reports of what's been happening here in Brisbane and in our neighboring cities of Ipswich and Towoomba as well as Grafton and other townships just across the border in New South Wales.

I have been relatively unscathed living near the top of a rise in a block of units very close to the Brisbane CBD.  However, literally meters down from where I am, the water has reached the street and risen and was still rising until late last evening taking occupancy of houses on either side of the street and forcing residents out.  One couple with a 6-month old baby were thankful they'd chosen to evacuate the night before because, on returning to view the scene, they found their house half-submerged.

In the midst of this, I saw a couple of mindless lads wading shoulder high in the very muddy and sewerage infested water (never mind the snakes and sharp objects that might have been in it).  Late yesterday afternoon, the police came and taped off the area with stuff that would normally be used at a crime scene..  A resident and I looked on with a mixture of incredulity and relief.

I walked into the city early yesterday morning.  I needed to see the Brisbane river which flows right along the CBD.  It was swollen, muddy and raging fast and furious hurling boats, inflatable rafts, rainwater tanks and other odd, unrecognizable objects of various shapes and sizes as it went charging through.

I was stunned, unable to keep track of my thoughts although there was one that was persistently there - what's the aftermath going to be like?  I had actually gone down to the city to see if there was anywhere I could go and offer help.  The government websites only had links for dollar donations, not people-power.

I met a music mate and his son, both looking somewhat shell-shocked.  He did manage to say that he would offer his help during the cleanup, which we've been warned is going to be horrendous.  Yes, we've been warned about the stench and the debris that will be left in the wake of these shock floods.  I've decided that I too will do the same.

I have hardly been affected.  Yes, I've had no power since 1pm yesterday which has meant that I've not been able to use my laptop/internet - its battery runs out pretty rapidly as does the battery on my mobile phone.  By far, this has been the only inconvenience.

But even in this, I've been spared as there is a park just by my street which has a barbecue.  My neighbors, who perhaps have been more prudent than I have, had plenty of food to cook on it and have been more than willing to share. 

Last night, I went to the bottle shop just up the road from where I am to see if they'd let me recharge my phone battery.  Of course they did.  Right now, I'm sitting in a travel agent's just across from the store that I work in typing this. They were kind enough to let me recharge laptop and phone batteries, offering me a nice seat and coffee and water.  I declined the coffee, having had 2 social cups with my neighbors - a need on my part to partake of social events in a time such as this.

(The store where I work was closed as I was to discover.  I had tried to phone before leaving home but my mobile service provider had put out a message saying there was no coverage in the area expect for emergency calls) 

I couldn't help feeling that we were vicariously acting out of the far greater despair and anxiety that others, greatly more affected than we were, have been and are feeling and likely to continue feeling for some time.

As I was keeping my morning vigil at the mass of water down the street, a car drove up and the driver called out 'Got a snorkel?'  I turned around, forced to tear away from my mixture of dismay and relief (yes, the water was finally receding) and couldn't help but burst out laughing.  By the look on their faces, I could see that both he and his passenger were not quite sure how I'd take this slice of early morning irony.  I think we were all glad I took it well.

Returning to my unit, I was greeted by neighbors offering coffee in the park - ah yes, it was nice to have a hot drink.  I hadn't had one since 9am the day before.  Not that I particularly wanted a hot drink on a day that was promising scorching heat - the kind we had yesterday. And yes, this too seemed ironic, that while the city was being flooded, the sun was powering down its burning best.  But actually, I did want that hot cuppa.  For some reason, it provided the means for some consolation, knowing that I could be with people sharing a freakish experience.

Oh, I could go on but I don't wish to abuse the kindness the travel agent girls have extended me.  I've already been here a few hours.  I would have gone to the state library in the city but it's shut as it was yesterday.

I'll leave you some pictures that I took and some videos that I shot. Perhaps in another post, I'll tell you more.  In the meantime, I know you're thinking kindly of all of us here.  Entire suburbs and towns have been ravaged and the people whose homes and businesses have been destroyed will especially feel your kindness across this revolving globe we call our home....

Just down my street

You wouldn't think they were watching the Brisbane River swell
and surge, breaking its banks, ripping off parts of the city

 No, you wouldn't but they were and it was

 Shards of construction struck off
their perch

Shelves in my local supermarket where bread used to be 
but a few minutes before

 Price labels but where have the igoods gone???

 Neighboring houses, backyards submerged and rapidly becoming a
breeding ground for all kinds of fauna

 The river last night, surging unabated under the William Jolly Bridge

 The mass of water down my street, finally receding this morning

 No, that's not shimmering blue water, but a reflection off my camera.
The water is muddy and holding sewerage .  It was where a couple
of lads were wading yesterday

 It did not discriminate, taking no prisoners

Love, TB

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