of flood and fire

The dreadful floods that have inundated large swathes of eastern Australia lately, including much of my present hometown of Brisbane, have not troubled or inconvenienced me personally at a physical level. I am staying in one of the outer suburbs, not too close to the river and not particularly low lying, so the massive amounts of rain left the garden water-logged by last Monday, but not flooded.

The local streets have coped well – this is a fairly new housing estate – with storm water drains flowing freely throughout the worst of the downpour. As I took this picture I realised there was a drain blocked with leaves in the middle. I cleared it, and the water drained away very quickly.

I did get down to the River several hours before it really took over.  This photo was taken at the Kodak Beach, at Southbank, 9.30 am on Wednesday. By the time I got to the bus station it was closed, with water lapping the edge of the Queensland Performing Arts Complex nearby and buses being re-routed via the Captain Cook Bridge.  A friend dropped me to a bus stop in Ipswich Road, and 2 1/2 hours later I was safely home (a trip that normally takes around 30 minutes).  There was a lot of traffic winding its way around those streets that were not flooded. The river rose another 3 metres after this.

I have managed to stay pretty cool and calm, not a problem when I am not directly affected. Now that the water is receding, and the clean-up has begun, I feel the need to offer to help.  I have enough sense to realise that I am no longer fit and able enough to manage the heavy work that is required in the first, second and third instances. So I have offered to bake treats for anyone who wants them, and I’m selling my jewellery online with all proceeds to the Qld Flood Relief Appeal. You can either acquire something pretty in return for your donation – at www.handmadebyflloyd.com –  or at my Etsy Store, or bid in the auction at Handmade Kids Flood Appeal Auction (the latter is for Australian residents only). Or of course you can donate direct to http://www.qld.gov.au/floods/donate.html.

I have listened and watched the news broadcasts, and been inspired by the patience and hard working support of our State Premier, Anna Bligh, by courage and generousity of local residents who mucked in together, helped clear each other’s houses, took in strangers and generally behaved with great kindness and patience, and appalled by the politicking of the opposition leader, who announced at the height of the tragedy that he would be “keeping a close watch on the government” rather than offering his, and his party’s support. Not a good look, Tony!

And I have been reminded, most reluctantly, of what it feels like to have your family’s lives at great risk, to lose all of your possessions, and to be inundated – not with water – but with the very generous donations of total strangers.  It was a house fire, on Tiree (Inner Hebrides, Scotland) in 1975.  I don’t think about it often, after all we all survived, we moved on. (ok, we lost the dog. That still hurts). At the time of the fire, I was so busy getting on with the business of getting everyone out, squirting a pathetic little fire extinguisher at the flames, and then watching the local fire brigade managing to douse the fire, but only after it had gone through the roof. I remember being overwhelmed by all the gifts of clothing and toys the islanders brought in huge bags, and I also remember feeling deeply resentful – something I have never confessed before.  I resented their smiling, caring faces, and I resented having to wear, and to dress my children in their loving gifts.  I still have a problem with second hand clothes, although I will occasionally indulge myself with some small item from St Vinnies, or the Salvo Shops. And boy, will I ever donate to them, every time I move and have a clean-out.

So I guess what I want to say at this moment is that I feel very deeply for those affected by this natural disaster.  I want to help you, in any way I can. That means I will bake for you, I will make and sell jewellery for you, I will come and entertain you when you are ready to be entertained.

I will also refuse to watch those disgusting television reporters who try to make people cry, with the camera people zooming in to catch the tears. Yuk! Do they have no humanity? They certainly don’t understand plain decent courtesy.

The Big Wet has a way to go. And then it will be back to the Big Dry. Because that is the way it works over here. Nature, eh?