Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Brisbane floods...one year on



Exactly this time last year we had evacuated our home as the flood waters had begun to rise at the end of our street. Thinking we would be trapped in the house for perhaps days without electricity or food, we grabbed our laptops and photo albums and moved to Graham's to "wait it out".

My main worry was that the water "might" reach the floorboards and ruin the new rug my Mum had sent me. So we piled anything that was on the floor onto benchtops, beds and tables, and locked up thinking we would be back in a couple of days.

A year later and we're still not home. The floodwaters came to just below the ceiling. EVERYTHING that was left in the house was soaked with filthy, mucky floodwater with a smell I can't even begin to describe. The only thing to survive unscathed were my beautiful Christmas ornaments, which were stored in the highest cupboard in plastic sealed boxes.

But, despite not being back home, a year makes a huge difference. There's hardly any evidence of the flood in Brisbane (aside from a number of houses under renovation in flood areas), and most of the city's most famous landmarks have been restored.

One of those was the Cultural Centre in Southbank, where the State Library, Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), Art Gallery and Museum are. Yesterday, my Bestie Bernice and I took all our kids to GoMA where we've been taking them for years. We were devasted when it was inundated by the floods, but it was restored lightning fast and reopened in just over a month.

While we were waiting for a table at the Gallery cafe on the ground floor for lunch, Josh laid out on grass near a Moreton Bay Fig in front of the very same river that had raged out of control with the fury of Mother Nature and drowned out the area. If he had been lying in that same spot on 12 January 2011, he would have been underwater and drowning in a brown, sticky toxic soup of sewerage and other muck. Rozumiem has recorded it here (at 24 secs).

Yesterday though, the spot was pristine, with gorgeous green grass and perfectly manicured gardens the way we've always loved it. The river calmly flowed downstream on its best behaviour with the beautiful Moreton Bay Fig clean and standing proudly on the banks.

The flood was something we will never forget and one year on we're still suffering the effects. But like the rest of Brisbane we're well on our way to recovery. The insurance has been settled and plans well underway for the rebuild so we can move back home.

Today I have mixed feelings of sadness for the lives that were lost, melancholy for the home and its contents that we'll never get back and frustration at the length of time it's taken for things to get back to normal. At the same time, I have overwhelming feelings of gratefulness for the friends, family and complete strangers who answered the call of help to clean out our flood damaged home, and a positive outlook for the year ahead, especially the opportunity for a brand new home just the way we wanted.

We don't have any plans to attend memorials or celebrate or anything like that, but we will reflect quietly on what has been a life changing event and incredible year.