Saturday, January 15, 2011

And mud will bring us together

Thought you might be wondering where we went, we just got a little lost in a world of rain, evacuations, blackouts, suburban kayaking and friends in need.

Firstly to all those who were worried for our safety, Betsy and I are safe and dry as we are perched on the top of a ridge. Unfortunately our riverside surburb was one of the hardest hit in this terrible flood and the streets either side of us were not so lucky.

The photos are from our old street just around the corner and show a few old girls up to their petticoats in mud and the very surreal sight of a small boat cruising along to visit some neighbours.

Tuesday night was a frenzy of activity as countless trucks and trailers beat a track down to the riverfront as people desperately tried to empty their homes and take their belongings to higher ground.
Wednesday morning was replaced by the sound of stillness as most access roads to our suburb were cut and neighbours congregated on the street to share information and survey the destruction.

This was quickly followed by a prolonged blackout that only resolved tonight and a police blockade into our little community checking all cars for ID to prevent looting.
Many of our friends and neighbours have been directly affected and we saw several using kayaks and boats to gain access to their submerged properties.

Yesterday the cleanup began as the water receded and left a foot of sludge in it's wake. We spent the day today helping friends empty and clean their brand new house that they only moved into 2 weeks ago. The flood filled their pool and about a metre of their first level with foul smelling sludge that we have bucketed and high pressure hosed and disinfected until we could do no more. The footpaths are a sludgy muddy mess covered in huge piles of mud covered rubbish sometimes reaching 3-4 metres high.

In contrast to this horrible image of waste and destruction are countless people, young and old, trudging the streets with shovels and brooms. There are tough looking blokes armed with high pressure hoses and huge brooms sweeping mud into drains. There are pretty young girls in floral gumboots and leggings emptying buckets of muddy water over railings. There is a boy driving a small bobcat with his dad, both have the same hat, ears and freckles. Everyone works together and despite the heat and the stench and devastation there are laughs and conversations about wonderful things like weddings and friends in common.

I am so grateful to have a family and home that are safe and dry. I am so proud to live in a place where helping friends and strangers in need is valued so highly. I am so amazed at how powerful an experience like this is to make you reassess your entire life and every value you have. My heart goes out to others who are not sleeping in their own beds tonight or who have loved ones who are not safe and dry. And if you are fortunate enough to be at home with your family, please help in any way you can, with gloves and bucket, with a supportive ear, with homemade food or babysitting.

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