It is another beautiful sunny day here in Brisbane. Sitting in the hills all of our puddles have been dried out, the birds are singing and insects humming. Which makes the idea that bits of my city are getting washed away really hard to comprehend. Until this morning we had reports that my aunt’s house was under water – fortunately the shopowner who told her that was wrong – and as I hung out the washing in the sunshine yesterday it was hard to believe the water was creeping into her house and her neighbour’s houses. And of course it was into many homes.
As we’ve been looking for a house to buy over the last few weeks, I have been paying attention to the flood risk maps one can download from the council. They had made me more aware of the topography of Brisbane even before the floods – now looking at aerial footage it is like seeing the maps come to life. Very strange.
One of my favourite things about my new job is that I get to go over the river twice a day on the train. I love the Brisbane River. It is big, looping and appears unexpectedly around the corner in lots of suburbs. We have a whole RiverFestival every year with our biggest firework display, where people hang out with picnics on the banks for hours. So it was heartbreaking to sit around here yesterday knowing that the fantastic riverwalk, a kilometres long walk/cycle way, was being demolished, and that the citycats (our wonderful catamaran ferries) won’t be running again for months.
And if I feel like I’ve been hit when I see a familiar street (and unfamiliar – I have been enjoying seeing new things from the last three years since I’ve been back, but not on TV in a flood!) covered in water, I can only imagine what the householders and shopkeepers feel.
And of course, none of this is anything compared to the loss of life from the flash floods to the west. The only thing I knew about flash floods before this week was that one shouldn’t camp near a dry creekbed. I didn’t know torrential rain for just an hour could lead to waves of water rushing around! The footage out of the Lockyer Valley has been heartbreaking.
The good news is that the floods weren't as bad as expected. As with the rest of the QLD floods, there has been footage of lots of laid back people being philosophical about losing their possessions but being grateful for their lives. People acting wonderful to each other. People are making interesting maps. And there are even funny animal stories already.
There is a website for donations here. But as other people have noted, Queensland is a relatively wealthy place. We will be OK for looking after people. But all of your kind messages are much appreciated.