The Aftermath in Queensland
Thank You Arthur and Irene
I love your out look in such tough times.
I have another email from my friends in Queensland and for those who have been following the posts from Arthur and his family in Queensland here is the last update.
First hand and as it is in Ipswitch Queensland.
Hello Concerned Friends,
What a difference 48 hours can make. We have been fortunate - the flooding was not a bad as they feared. By peaking well below the 1974 levels, thousands of families were spared the distress of losing everything, but about 18,000 homes in Brisbane alone were inundated. We were also fortunate that the sun came out. With reduced inflow of water, the dams were able to partly close spillways to reduce the amount of water flowing into the river system.
Effects will extend beyond the actual flood damage. 60 Schools, 86 Child Care Centres & 7 Higher Learning Centres have been affected, so a lot of children may not be returning to school after the summer break. Unemployment will jump with many businesses having to close.
As distressing as the aftermath of the floods will be, it has given Aussies an opportunity to display that “never say die” attitude and highlight the Australian bond of mateship. I saw one man whose house had been smashed by the wall of water in the Lockyer Valley. After inspecting the damage, he opened the farm shed and saw the devastation there. We commented (with a smile on his face), “Oh bugger, I think I’ll go fishing!”
At our Footbll Stadium, there is a bronze statue ot our most famous Queensland footballer Wally Lewis. As you can see from the photo (Flood_Wally), they even prepared him for the floods, complete with snorkel, goggles & water wings.
On Friday morning, we received a call to say that the twins’ Child Care Centre was ready for us to enter. When we arrived, the owner and a few teachers were beginning the task of cleaning up. Inside, the ceilings had collapsed, so we began shovelling mud, Gyprock, toys and furnishings. The smell was awful – 2 fellows gagged (almost vomited) and chose outside work instead.
For our international friends;
I’ll explain a couple of Australianisms. We often refer to products by brand names. Gyprock is a wafer of plaster between layers of paper. It’s an easy building product, nailed & glued to the interior timber frame. With plaster over the joins, it makes a smooth surface for walls & ceilings. Unfortunately, when submerged, it collapses. A Dingo (as well as being a native dog) is a small bulldozer with wheels, a Bobcat is something similar with tracks. A Karcher is a water blaster which channels the water in a small jet that is very effective in cleaning. A Squeegee is a strip of rubber, like an over-sided windscreen wiper with a broom handle, making it ideal for pushing mud and water. A Skip is a huge bin, about the size of a dump truck.
At the Child Care Centre;
During the morning, our ranks grew to 30+, with unknown people just dropping in to help. We sorted out anything that could be saved, piling everything else on the footpath (nature strip). Once we had emptied a room, we brought in hoses, brooms and squeegees to clean walls and floors. At lunch time, a squad of Air Force personnel arrived to assist. By this time, we had a bobcat loading trashed furnishings etc into Skips so we put the military to work moving the heavy items – fridges, stoves & washing machines (these were all industrial sized). Nothing was worth saving – anything electrical was ruined. Eventually, we filled 6 Skips - see Flood_site series of photos.
Trent (son #2) and a couple of other fellows with trucks, ferried anything that could be saved to our house, where we set up a cleaning process on our driveway & front lawn. We started with 3 Karchers (we now have 5 and more on offer), blasting the mud off everything, setting them out to dry, then stacking them in our garage.
On Saturday, Trent & Stuart (son-in-law) joined a gang removing all remaining interior fittings, air conditioning ducts etc yesterday so that the buildings were completely gutted. After 48 hours, they are now ready for reconstruction. All electrical wiring & air-conditioning will be replaced, then new wall & ceiling sheeting installed, before they attempt to outfit the Centre.
At our house:
Yesterday & today, we have had a team of about 25, hand-washing small toys in an old bath tub, while others karchered beds, tables, chairs, cots, high chairs & toys;, or cleaned blocks with hoses. Our property looks as through we went through the flood (Flood_cleanup).
We have 130 beds and a similar number of chairs neatly stacked in the garage, along with cupboards, toy stoves & play equipment, yet our driveway is still stacked with equipment. We are up early each and finish around 7:00pm. We’ve set up the bar-b-que and provide bread & sausages (commonly known as snags), drinks, cakes, snacks etc to keep everyone going. We had a surprise visit from 2 ladies who delivered dishes of tuna bake and some pasta concoction..
This community spirit is happening all over Queensland. We even have had traffic jams – people trying to get into Brisbane, just to help. In many places, they have had too many workers. The Government has set up a Volunteer Centre, so people can be channelled to where they are needed most. One American commented that they never had roads jammed with traffic coming in to New Orleans to help after Hurricane Katrina. At our place, we had people who had driven from the other side of Brisbane, just to help.
In Ipswich, a Pizza outlet that was unaffected by the floods baked hundreds of pizzas and gave them away. In Goodna women backed cakes etc and took them to disaster sites. The manager & staff of the local motor spare parts dealership (that went under the floods), ignored his own shop & turned up in the community with Karchers he had borrowed from another dealership, just to help out. It’s happening in every suburb. Our Markets for all produce in South-East Queensland was totally inundated, losing $10 million of produce. In 2 days, they have cleared the mess away (using bulldozers, huge trucks and fire hoses) & expect to reopen tomorrow. Tomorrow (Monday) will be interesting as they are urging anyone working for a business that can open, to return to work. Authorities want Brisbane & Ipswich back to normal as quickly as possible.
It’s going to be a long process. We’ve been fortunate that we’ve had good organization. Certain people took on leadership roles and everything happened in a coordinated fashion. Trent was transport coordinator, Stuart was in charge of gutting the Day Car Centre while we have been responsible for saving & storage. Others looked after clearing the mess & transporting it away. I believe they have already organized contractors to start work on Wednesday.
Our grandchildren have had a ball. They have used the Karchers, helped wash toys, played with familiar toys from Day care & become wetter & dirtier as the day passed. Even in the midst of a crisis, there is still room for fun (Flood_cleanup7). Each day though, we become more exhausted. All we do at the end of the day is clean-up (ourselves), buy take-away Chinese, then collapse into bed. Even the young ones are complaining of aches & pains & tiredness. They’re getting soft!!
Not everything is good. Ten people have been arrested locally – for looting, mainly trying to get alcohol from flooded hotels. Another couple were caught riding a jet ski, while towing another. They claimed that they had found the jet skis, floating free and SES (Emergency Response) personnel had told them they could keep them. In reality, they had stolen them from 2 separate properties. Looting carries a 10 year jail term. We hope they get the full term.
Personally, we are missing a large wheelbarrow & some shovels & Nicole’s mobile phone has gone missing, but that is a small price to pay when other have lost so much.
Our worst hit suburb locally is Goodna, a very working class, low income area where an evening meal is usually Pizza or a Big Mac Meal (or 2). There will be major food problems there – they have lost their 5 major food groups – McDonalds, Red Rooster, Pizza Hut, Hungry Jacks (Burger King) & the Pub (Hotel). The locals will have to learn to cook, or starve!
We still have to pray that we don’t have any more heavy rain. The dams are still overflowing, but they are trying to hold off releasing more until flood waters have gone down. Our “River City” is a mess, but we’ll be back!
The other states are obviously jealous of Queensland’s notoriety. All of the Eastern States are getting in on the act. The rains that caused problems here, has moved south. Coastal areas of Northern New South Wales (NSW) are experiencing floods. North-Western NSW is starting to received the runoff from Queensland, but the odd one is the mining city of Broken Hill, noted for is heat & dry weather, but it’s now flooded after unusual storm activity. Further south, 25% of Victoria is flood affected and large areas of Tasmania are suffering their own floods. These areas are generally farming communities with small towns and no major cities. I’m sure they aren’t happy about being flooded, but it does reduce the personal impact.
Love from muddy Queensland.