Saturday, 15 January 2011

They're from Queensland and they're here to help.

G-man has just returned from trying to clean out his sister's place in Fig Tree Pocket. She is in Gladstone working so he went down to remove the fallen ceiling from her tenant's stuff so she could salvage it. Well, that was the plan.

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. 


  1. It's been really wonderful to see. Greg went out to Mt Coot-tha to try to get on the afternoon shift, but was turned away as he hit the front of the line because their buses were full.

  2. Vollies will be needed for at least a week. He should wait till the novelty's worn off. Most people won't go back twice.

  3. He probably will go again later in the week; he's not working at the moment.

  4. Yeah - got turned away at Mt Cooth-tha also. I'm figuring there are already enough people in that volunteering role for this weekend, and looking around for more useful things to do over the coming weeks. I heard Nudgee Beach needs people on a longer term basis, as debris will be washing up for weeks.

  5. A funny slant on the aftermath! Lovely piece. I, too, wondered about the haste of all that trashing, as I watched on TV.

  6. People my age recoil in horror at the waste. In '74 there were no promises of disaster cash.

    I pity the elderly who will arrive back to their homes to find them sparkling clean, but gutted of all their things. It's only mud - it does come out, but it's all gone to the tip before they can get back in.

    The death toll of these disasters is actually much higher than ever makes it to the news papers. There is a delayed death toll of the elderly who slowly die of shock and exposure, or just lose heart because it is just too hard to start over.

    Happened in my street in Sydney when a hail storm ripped through the suburbs and took all our roofs off. The old people were un insured and couldn't do the work to get their houses habitable fast enough to drive off the pneumonia that they developed by being exposed for so long. Terrible business.

    People with elderly neighbors who have been flooded should make sure they are ok and continue to check on them for the next few months.

  7. Good point on the elderley. The after shocks will continue.

  8. I feel really sorry for the farmers, poor bastards. 10 years of drought and now this.

    Still, I guess you have to be philosophical about it if you're on the lad, the whole reason you can farm it is that it floods like this every so often. That black tide is topsoil and fertile as all fuck. Gold.

  9. Sheesh. Some people just don't know how to say "thank you."

    Talk about lack of gratitude:

    "Oh no, don't clean up this mess! That is beautiful junk!"

  10. Paul - as I tried to point out, one man's junk is another's entire life's work. Just because there is a bit of mud on it doesn't make it rubbish. Many of the people flooded out have no insurance. They can't go to ikea and have a spend frenzy on new stuff. They need to hang on to that set of sauce pans, the contents of the cutlery drawer etc.

    It's not a decision a stranger can make.

  11. I was taking the piss.

    (despite my now long familiarity with such idioms, I nevertheless remain uncomfortable with this one)

  12. It all hangs on the definite article.


  13. YEAH, whilst the top soil / MUD, might be coating everything at the moment, ITS TOP SOIL. So for those that have had it deposited, its a boon..longer term.

    Problem really starts upstream...the first area's..they may well be devoid of significant amounts of it...THAT!, is a rather large issue.

    You also hit the nail square on the head with ALL GOODS going out the door. Great nothing I have every seen short of bush fires and the post event help.

    Glad you and the man are well and ok. Thought about you quite a few times. How did your patch fare?



  14. Garden got swamped in the deluge, so I've been digging the "Bremmer" and the "Lockyer" that ran trough it a bit deeper to stop it flowing over the beds. No small task. All the paths were washed in the general direction of the creek.

    But we are way up on the moral high ground here. No worries.

    But thanks for asking. Hope your pondo doesn't become one in the rains. There is more to come this big wet season. For all on the East Coast.