"Fall seven times, get up eight"
If you happen to be a Queenslander (which is a state of Australia, for international readers) then I’d like to say up that today, I feel proud to be one of you. Proud and sad, for everyone, at the same time.
If you have no idea why I would be sharing these sentiments, then please read on and I’ll tell you. It’s kind of a BIG story.
Throwing Out The Old, Bringing In the New
This time last week the only thing on my mind was my home renovation. I was already tired of living out of two rooms in my house (while the rest was being refloored) and the disruption to our family’s normal routine was causing a bit of cabin fever for my children.
I was having trouble locating the things I routinely use (keys, particular books etc..), the washing was piling up (it had been raining a lot) and the noise and tiling dust was a constant background irritant (although frequently broken by the cheerful singing voice of one of the tradesmen !) .
These things were happening but it was kind of fun and we were all still laughing and looking forward to our newly finished renovations.
So, what has all this got to do with being proud to be a Queenslander? Read on….I’m getting there. As I said, it’s kind of a BIG story.
The Natural Disaster
So, looking back on my own little corner of life last week, I feel grateful.
Enormously grateful. It was an enjoyable week for me and as I thought at the time, a wonderful way to start the new year. All renovated, fresh and new – that sort of thing. A happy time, unfolding into even happier times. New things being created, old things being discarded. You get the picture….
This picture however (which was no doubt, not all that different in some ways from many others starting the New Year) was not the one I have seen since, night and day, on the television and with my own eyes.
This picture of which I am talking about is one of devastation, loss, suffering and grief – on a massive scale. There is also kindness and generosity mixed in there too. That’s the amazing thing about us humans – adversity seems to bring out the best in us.
I’ve heard it has been world-wide news, so perhaps you already know what I am referring to, but in case you haven’t heard I’ll retell you now.
On January 12th after much rain had fallen all over our state and several regional areas had already suffered huge inundations of water through their homes, a massive event occurred in a town called Toowoomba, a beautiful ‘garden’ city, formerly best known for its annual floral displays. This event can only be described accurately by calling it an inland tsunami.
I still don’t fully understand all the factors which came together to cause this event. Many of us do not. It was also an event that weather forecasters were not able to predict and thus, the people it affected had no warning. Whatsoever.
The Impact Spreads
As if this alone was not enough to devastate lives and cause tragedy, this body of water then continued its path through several more towns and eventually to the city of Brisbane.
May I just say at this point that I think we are all becoming used to hearing news about natural disasters these days.
Usually though, for me at least, these events occur in countries and places whose names I haven’t heard of and can’t pronounce. Therefore they sometimes seem very far removed from anything to do with me.
All I can say is about that is that when something like this happens in your home state, the impact is much different. You have visited these towns, admired their beauty, enjoyed good times there and know people who are affected.
So you yourself can comprehend (I still can’t) the massive scale of this disaster, here are some of the major facts:-
1. All up, the floods in Queensland have hit over 86 towns and 30, 000 homes have either been totally inundated with water or flood affected in other ways.
Three quarters of this state (which is the size of France and Germany combined) has been declared a disaster zone.
2. At the time of writing this 4,400 people in Brisbane are being housed in evacuation centres.
3. There are currently 50 operational evacuation centres around the city, all providing food shelter and counselling to those affected.
4. And lastly, here is the only statistic that lifts my heart and the one that makes me proud to be an Australian and a Queenslander.
As the business of clearing up begins in some parts, the call for help has gone out to the whole community and today, a volunteer army of some 11,000 people hit our streets and suburbs to help begin the process.
All armed with their own brooms, spades and buckets. They are of course being backed up by some other heavy-duty equipment being provided by the army and State Emergency Service personal.
The journey to bringing our state back from this disaster will be a marathon one and will involve every member of our community. The spirit of that community is already being demonstrated even now as all barriers are broken and neighbours, friends, families and more often than not, perfect strangers, all unite for one cause – to help the flood affected.
I will continue to blog when I can, but for now most of my energies will be focussed elsewhere.
Thanks for reading this and please, keep the welfare of the people of my home state, in your hearts and minds.
If you are on Facebook or Twitter, I would very appreciative if you could share this story with your friends, so more people are able to hear the story and help if they want to.
If you are interested in helping the community of Queensland, you can either register to volunteer or donate online at http://www.qld.gov.au/floods/donate.html .
Or if you would just like to share your thoughts with me, I would very happy to hear them.