Monday, January 17, 2011

Floods in Queensland

Monday, the 10th of January started like an ordinary day.

The grass is wet, the weather is cool: a perfect time to grab a cup of coffee.Here in the country, cloudy days seem to be the perfect time to gaze upon the window and look at the pastures of never ending green.

Noon came and the sun is still behind those angry clouds. 

It rained so hard. 

For a few hours it remained that way. It was the perfect recipe for a flood I suppose, but I never suspected anything tragic to happen.

However in my mind was the Toowoomba CBD: I just sent an application to one of the offices there. I was wondering if perhaps during those times someone was browsing through my cover letter- only to realise that those were in fact the times where the ‘inland tsunami’ hit the city streets! 

I somewhat knew it was coming.

It is raining all summer; we had a very wet Christmas. There was flooding mostly here in southern Queensland, but not the kind that’s deadly and turbulent: capable to take lives, homes and dreams.

I know what it’s like to have ones house inundated by flood water. It happened to us- twice at our home that’s nearby a creek in Manila.

The aftermath was chaotic:  mud and rubbish from I don’t know where, scattered around the neighbourhood. Inside our house there was foul smell loitering for several days even if we washed our floors and walls mightily.

Because I’m a flood survivor, there are two things I’ve learned so far:

First,  moderate rain  for a couple of days or just few hours of heavy rain- both can cause serious flooding.

And second, a home built near an inland body of water is dangerous.   

I watched the news and saw horror. 
 These are familiar streets. I’ve passed by them. Never did it come to me that such horrendous torrent of water can terrorize the lovely garden city! For a place situated 2,300 feet above sea level this seems close to impossible.

What disturbed me the most and made me realise how tragic this is the fact that lives were lost and people became missing.

Toowoomba always made headlines every time the annual flower festival comes, this time however, I don’t know if this tragic event will overshadow what this city is best known for

The horror train went on without stopping. 

At first, I was relieved that none of the people we knew went missing, or lost a car- just a very few whose house was inundated by flood water.

Soon afterwards, the authorities alerted that the massive pool of water will be making stops at Ipswich and Brisbane: like a train reaching its destination. Soon enough there there was chaos.

I've seen much worse that this but something about everything I've seen, heard and read tells me that this one is not just a story dramatising mother nature's wrath but rather a story showing human nature at its finest.

After water floods have subsided many volunteers, as many as 3,000 from all arond Brisbane to help clean the streets and properties engulfed in mud. Everyone who came brought their best cleaning equipments with sympathy in their hearts.

To them no one is a stranger, everyone's seems like a family. I wish I could have lend a hand too but roads may have been still damaged going to Brisbane.

It has exactly been a week since this tragedy happened. The mess that this flood left is not yet totally cleaned up.Full recovery can take place for months or even years.

There are still unresolved problems like denied  insurance claims for properties, non-stop mortgage payments for damaged houses and missing people.Businesses which premises were wrecked may have to close temporarily and others permanently, which means job losses.

Toowoomba, a 40 minute drive from where I live seems to be pretty much cleaned up compared to other places however when we went to grocery shopping at Coles, the veggie, egg, meat and milk section is so underwhelming. 

The Queensland flooding has been in my thoughts all week long. It came unexpected so here I am drowning in my own thoughts, wondering how  fellow Queenslanders are coping and wondering what's ahead of us.

This is painful but life must go on. Queensland Motorways made that reminder to me just now: an email saying that tolls will be reinstated in Gateway and Logan motorway starting midnight. 

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