I had noticed last night the SES were calling on Facebook, for wheelbarrows at a site near the river, and so I decided to volunteer my wheelbarrow with myself attached.
Travelling to North Bundaberg can be a little different every time you drive there. what is a constant, is that you will always be in a long line of traffic. The route is from the old bridge, turn left and follow the battered riverside for a couple of kilometres, thus circumnavigating North Bundaberg. Head East to the highway and a kind policeman or SES worker will indicate that you must turn right to North Bundaberg. The need to travel around the outskirts of North Bundaberg is because of the severe road damage North Bundaberg sustained. Potholes, massive sinkholes and missing bitumen have required many of the main roads to be closed, as was the Tallon Bridge that had a huge hole in it and required immediate closure.
Travelling towards North Bundaberg, I sail past homes and businesses that had not been seriously affected by the storm and flood. Of course, when you soon come across the small house that has floated down Queen Street and established itself on a busy corner, you know things are not right!
Finally in North Bundaberg, I parked at my friends Phil and Marlies's high set house. They had been holidaying with relatives in Germany when about a metre of water gushed through the lower floor of their high set home, swallowing up everything there including some very valuable art books.
Their art framing business, Art Plus, had suffered inundation also. Along with the loss of their Jeep and art van, they seem to have had more than their fair share of misfortune.
I had been amongst the volunteers that helped cleanup their properties and hopefully they will be back in action soon. The house had been cleaned out, washed with a gurney and now only awaits connection of electricity. They were lucky that their water supply had not disconnected.
Their shop has been cleaned out of damaged stock, washed with the gurney, painted and will have floors tiled hopefully for reopening early next week once some stock that had been relocated is returned.
All these miracles have happened within such a short time.
I went with my wheel barrow down to Fagg Street, which had been a visual nightmare a few days back. The dusty roadway had been narrowed by huge smelly piles of the complete contents of every house on the street. The silt sodden piles were growing everyday, awaiting removal by men driving bob cats.
The street had been full of SES workers, police, volunteers, homeowners and their relatives and the Army. There were people delivering cakes and treats or bottles of water, gloves, disinfectants-all manner of things for the workers!! Big Potable Water trucks would drive by. Trucks sprinkling water to keep the dust down, Trucks full of drinking water, army tanks full of very fit soldiers and police vans and fire engines.
Today it was quieter. There were only a few people about and all the rubbish piles were gone. I started to feel that things had reached a turning point...that we, together had shown that we won't give in. But that impression went out the door when later that afternoon I went to help clean out a home down by the river.
Cleanup of this property had only begun today. The owner had stipulated that everything in the house was to be disposed of.
Entering the dark house was a shocking experience. All the furniture had been tossed about and broken. Cupboards had disgorged their contents all over the floor. Rooms were exploding with broken beds, chairs, filthy pillows and blankets. The kitchen was indescribable. In fact, the entire house and it's jumbled broken contents was indescribable.
A thick layer of sticky smelly black mud covered everything.
A few volunteers had already started work, We would nod or say a quick hello. I have found that volunteers don't seem to talk to each other much. This is partly because they are trying to get the job done as quickly as possible. As well as this, there seems to be a solemnity surrounding the cleanup task. As I gathered up the chattels of a persons life, I felt moved by the experience...even haunted by it. Then to discard these chattels brutally on a heap, is quite heartbreaking.
I hang on to a couple of thoughts. One is that in a year or two, the majority of flood victims will have their lives back on track. Secondly, I think there are always interesting possibilities that come with a new start.
I learnt today, that there is still a lot of work to be done.. Hope to work with you soon!