Saturday, 15 January 2011
They're from Queensland and they're here to help.
However, a tsunami of shovel wielding volunteers had descended on the low-lying mud-drying suburb - ready to help. When he returned this afternoon, he looked shell shocked - not from what he'd seen - he'd cleaned up after the '74 flood - but by the frenzy of goodwill.
"I think I've just witnessed a sack," he said when he arrived home.
"In the 6 hrs I was there, there were maybe 60 volunteers through my sister's house, armed with wheelbarrows, axes, shovels. No sooner had I turned away 10 unneeded helpers at the front door, another 20 had entered through the back door and were going at it hammer and tongs. It was an insane festival of mud and destruction. The river did the first wave of damage and the 'help' did the second. We arrived at 8am as agreed with the tenant and could hardly find a park in the street.' Work ' had already started. Blokes with bob cats, front end loaders and drots were piling debris into trucks as fast as the working bee could drag it through the mud onto the kerb. 3 times we had to stop a well intentioned pump operator from trying to empty the pool."
Perhaps 'army' of volunteers wasn't the best descriptor Anna could have chosen. Armies have a chain of command. This was out of control. They came as an armed and dangerous horde - especially if you were uninsured and hoping to pick though your meagre possessions in the hope that something might be salvageable; in case that favourite pair of shoes just needed a wash, or if you had to get out fast and all your nicknacks from your glory box, on which you had hung all your fondest memories, just needed a bit of a hose down.
Nup - all trashed, all on the stinking piles on the footpaths.
I'm hearing a new euphamism in the air: The flood only got up to the eaves, but the place was totally Rudded when the waters receded.
P.S. If you do intend to volunteer, please make sure either the tenant or owner is actually present before you enter a house, and take direction from them. Don't chuck anything unless directed by them.