The river ran through us

After waiting for the Burnett River to peak all night Monday and into Tuesday it stopped at around 9.5 metres. I spent Tuesday obsessively checking the BOM flood warnings and gaining a new insight into things like catchment areas, rises, falls and just how water works. Ultimately, I felt like the luckiest girl in the world because although the water seeped into my newly renovated garage/music room, it DID NOT go through the main house. What an amazing relief. And even though once the water receded the yard stunk like an old chook pen or stagnant pond I didn’t care. My little house had looked the record flood water in the face and like Gandalf in LOTR it said “YOU SHALL NOT PASS” (or whatever it is Gandalf says if indeed it is Gandalf). So much of Bundaberg has not been as fortunate as me. North Bundaberg looks like a war zone. There are gaping holes in the road that are up to 20 metres deep and 100 metres long, houses have moved from the stumps sometimes all the way down the road. Others have been completely destroyed and so many more will contain the ruins of people’s belongings. As yet we have not heard officially of any loss of life in that area but I worry that it is only a matter of time. After the initial joy at my own good fortune I felt a little bit guilty. How and why could I be so relieved when so many others were still devastated? I know there’s no real rhyme or reason to it. That’s what makes it seem even more awful and unfair. Tomorrow residents of North Bundaberg are going to be allowed to cross the bridge and look at their houses, or where their houses once were. I can’t begin to imagine what that would be like. The recovery for them (if that is indeed the right word) will be slow and long and no doubt painful and frustrating. People help in any way they can. After I got myself mostly organised with my house, I figured if I could only help a few people that would be better than no help at all. I gave clothes to a piano student who had to be evacuated from her North Bundaberg home with her husband, young son and twin daughters. They are living with friends. She was delighted because it turned out that water hadn’t actually risen as high as the ceiling. My mum and sister and I cleaned out our wardrobes and took clothes to one of the many evacuation centres. I bought up big on soap, shampoo, deodorant, breakfast cereal, bread and fruitcakes and took them to another evacuation centre. I gave a blanket extension to all students in my course. Their final assignment was to be due on Monday. After about the 20th student emailing or phoning in the last couple of days, all with stories of the flood, our university deadlines paled into insignificance. These students needed compassion and support. As educators we are to provide them with that as best we can. No doubt there will be more to do in the days and weeks and months ahead. I’m ready. I think Bundaberg is too.

1 Comment »

One Response to “The river ran through us”

  1. 2paw says:

    I have been thinking of you and I saw Bundaberg on the ABC news tonight with the poor people being messed about by the authorities: right hand/left hand- neither knows what the other is doing.
    I am glad your house was not flooded and it is pretty normal to have ‘survivor’ guilt. We saw the same thing with the houses miraculously spared by the recent fires.
    Adversity certainly brings out the best in us.
    Hope it all goes well.Glad you are safe. I can’t imagine what it must be like to lose everything like that. I count myself lucky.

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