I woke up with a start this morning because I could hear the sound of rain on the roof and I felt sick. Call it rain trauma, flood fatigue, whatever you will: we’re all over the rain now and we’d like it to stop, please. The waters have pretty much receeded from Brisneyland, Ipswich and the Lockyer Valley and are making their way down south to smash NSW and Victoria, so now it’s clean-up time for us.
Yesterday was the first day people could get into their suburbs and houses to get a look at the damage. A lot of mud, a lot of destroyed furniture and a lot of houses that will need to be torn down because they will never dry out and go back to their old shape. A lot of memories washed away. Almost 5000 people are in emergency centres. Businesses are closed and some may never open again. The small country towns like Grantham and Murphy’s Creek are completely devastated, with huge chunks of their population washed away with no warning at all – one poor man’s body was found 80km away from his home. Children and parents have lost each other and the speed of the flooding in some places meant a lot of people didn’t even get a chance to say ‘goodbye’.
There are folk phoning their dead’s mobiles just so they can hear their voices again.
But there is some awesome community stuff happening: as of yesterday, heaps and heaps of houses and shops and streets were cleaned up, things salvaged, things thrown away. And there are now 20,000 volunteers in and around Brisneyland helping out complete strangers. People whose properties were unaffected are out there in their galoshes and gloves helping to clean out the filthy, disgusting river mud that’s been left behind. People whose properties were affected are down the road helping other folk who are worse afflicted than them.
Folk who aren’t in a position to offer physical assistance are giving generously to the various fundraising efforts and going to linen cupboards and kitchen cupboards to donate stuff to restock the houses of people who no longer even have sheets to their names – or even Tupperware. Every little bit helps and no donation is too small. Fablecroft’s After the Rain special edition has raised $1200 already!
There are the occasional asshats: looters. Eejits who think it’s a great chance to enrich themselves at the expense of people who’ve already lost so much. Those guys better just pray the police get to them first, because if residents of the streets they’re robbing find them then an atomic wedgie will be the least of their worries.
We’re incredibly lucky we live in a country with a working infrastructure, an army that is designed to help rather than form death squads, and a government that recognises (most of the time) that it’s role is to serve and aid its people.
No one can sum it up better than the little girl who appeared on the news the other night, sitting in a canoe with her mum at the top of their inundated suburban street, who said very matter-of-factly something along the lines of “Well, if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.”