Sunday, January 23, 2011

After the Flood (and photos from before the Flood)

It's been a surreal fortnight here in Brisbane. In the area where we live, there has been no flooding between the inner suburb of Rosalie to the south that was deluged and the northern suburbs of Strathpine/Petrie which were cut off by floodwaters from the rest of Brisbane. It's been a bit like watching another city flood except it all looked so familiar - the river that I walk over from my office to do research at the State Library, the shops at Rosalie where we used to live, Queensland Uni where I did my degree - all a gigantic mess of endless brown water. I have no flood photos to post, as I saw no flood waters. I was tempted to go and see the power of the river but knew it was more sensible to stay home with my girls and out of the way.
On the Tuesday before the flood hit Brisbane, the girls and I were having a "no TV/no computer day" and went off to see the movie "Tangled". When we emerged from the cinema at 1.30pm, the world seemed to have changed. The giant shopping centre that we call "Chermie" was closing down, people were gathered around a big TV listening to the Prime Minister addressing the nation and an announcement said that public transport would stop running in half an hour. (It didn't). My husband was sent home from work in the CBD like thousands of other workers and had left messages for me that he was waiting at Northgate Station because the Caboolture Trainline might be cut. So....the TV went back on and I watched in amazement as the flood dramas unfolded. As the expected peak of the flooding drew closer, the electricity supply to the CBD was turned off and the city centre shut down except for the emergency personel at the State and Council headquarters. Scott and I stayed home from work. It felt like a holiday but no-one wanted to enjoy it. Life in our sunny dry suburb went on as normal.
We were so lucky to be unaffected and I felt guilty for not helping, but there was no one near us to help. I could not get through the traffic snarls on Friday to help at Rosalie and could only offer our spare bed for emergency accommodation if it was needed. (Apparently not). So we just watched it unfold on TV and cried for the families who literally lost parents and children washed away by the force of the water.
Now the massive cleanup is underway and everyone is talking talking talking about how it could have happened and why did Council let people build on the floodplains and why did they let Wivenhoe dam stay so full during the wet season so that it couldn't contain the floodwaters and had to release gargantuan volumes of water at the worst possible time. I am so thankful that all we had to put up with was a leaking kitchen ceiling from weeks and weeks of rain. are a few photos from my garden from a few months ago when Brisbane was its normal, sunny self and we were gearing up for Christmas and the school holidays.