This week marks five years since the devastating Queensland Floods. This week marks five years since people lost their loved ones and thousands of homes were destroyed. Mine included.
It’s hard to imagine that it was only five years ago, but at the same time it feels like ages ago. I’m not the same person today as I was then because of the event, and though I would love to say I’m a much better person now, I can’t say so with much confidence. Major events do change you. Sometimes the change is profound, and sometimes it’s small.
In 2011, I was turning 30 this week. I wanted a small party to enjoy it with some friends, but I hadn’t gotten around to see if anyone wanted to do anything. The subject was moot by Monday 9 Jan, because the genuine concern turned to our house and the rain.
We don’t exactly live in incredibly low ground. It actually takes the river to go over 16 meters high in water before we can flood. That year it was over 19 meters.
We originally thought it would be all of a foot into the house. Boy, were we wrong…
Nothing quite prepares you for an event such as this. But there is something that you should know if you do have a natural disaster:
People inherently want to help. When disaster strikes, the human condition known as community takes over.
This is something that a lot of disaster and apocalyptic movies/stories get wrong. When the shit hits the fan, people don’t run for the hills. They help their fellow man.
We had a lot of help, and it will never be forgotten. We immediately had people helping us the first day of the cleanup. We had friends willing to wash our clothes at their homes. We had friends washing our dishes in big plastic bins in the backyard. We had others just sweeping out the water or washing the walls. And when the time came to tear down the walls, we had complete strangers and friends and family alike standing side by side to do the deed.
Two people, in particular, helped us the most, though, and that was my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. They took us in, helped us move stuff to their place on higher ground, and in the immediate term allowed us to stay with them until we could get back on our feet.
It took three months before life resumed some form of normalcy. Every day not spent at work was spent doing something to our house, getting a rental to live in until our house was rebuilt, filling it with furniture, or something insurance-related.
My biggest regret during the time was not being able to help others with their own stuff. We weren’t one of the unlucky ones without flood cover on our insurance. Things were replaced. (Not everything, though.) The house was rebuilt with a few changes to improve it. Not everyone can say that. But when I look back at the event, I can’t help but feel that I’m telling a very one-sided story. That makes it feel like a selfish and solitary event when, in fact, it affected thousands.
So let my story act as simply one of many on that day. I’m not looking for sympathy, but to only write about something that affected me in a profound way.
In 2011, we lost our house to the floods, and while we did get it rebuilt, the threat of it happening again burns in my mind. We pay higher premiums on our insurance because of it now, we’ve lost property value on the house. But you know what??? None of that matters, because I’m still here. My husband and his kids and our family members are all here. We lost only belongings, not memories or health. We survived thanks to wonderful people. And even though I don’t feel like I’m a better person, I know I’ve changed.
We held a party a year later to thank those that did help, but now I want to leave it out in the world of the interwebz! You guys rock! Here’s to all those warriors that helped change my perception of the world! 🍻