Brisbane: After the Floods January 2011

Today I am supposed to be on holiday. Actually, I should already be there. It’s a long story, but I suppose that’s what I do. So here goes….

A long, long time ago we booked up to go camping over at Rainbow Beach, which is about three hours drive north of Brisbane and between Gympie and Maryborough. We were going to be leaving this morning. We were going to hang out on the sun kissed beach, feed the dolphins, cook food on the campfire and generally chill out.

It was probably about three weeks ago when Gympie and Maryborough became isolated as the Mary River broke its banks. As the towns became submerged, access to the campsite was also cut off. Yeah, camping would have been so much fun, but not right now.

But we hadn’t had a break since last May, Uluru, and we were fast approaching the final week of the seven in the long school summer holidays. We really wanted to get away. So a couple of weeks ago, we booked flights to Adelaide and arranged to stay at a hotel near the city centre.


Then the floods came. Brisbane was turned upside down and there was too much to do here.

So on Thursday we telephoned Virgin Atlantic to cancel the flights, but we couldn’t get through. Not surprising really, this city was in chaos. But by Friday, electricity had been restored to most houses round our way, the flood waters had receded and thousands of volunteers were getting stuck in to the cleanup.

Then today, I heard something that astounded me. I spoke to a friend of mine who used to live down the road in this house….

Brisbane floods

This was how his house looked the day of the flood. His driveway is on the right a little way down this road, but you wouldn’t have been able to drive up it. It was under a couple of metres of water. But it’s not as bad as it looks, his swimming pool and garden would’ve been submerged, but I think the house was just about above it.

Anyway, he moved about six months ago to the Gold Coast, but drove all the way up here to lend a hand. He showed up at one of the volunteer’s registration points at around 11 o’clock this morning, ready to report for work. They turned him away!


It’s all done, they told him. We’ve been inundated with volunteers, they told him. We’ve had THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of them today across Brisbane, they told him. We haven’t got anything we can give you to do, they told him.

I read somewhere today that volunteers have turned up here from as far away as Sydney. Amazing!

My mate then went to other volunteer registration points, nothing doing! He told me about volunteers squabbling over whose turn it was to move a box of stuff. “I’ll get it!” One of them would say. “No, its okay, I’ve got it!” Would say another. “No, no, it’s my turn!” Someone else would argue. “Oh come on, please let me do it?” …. and so on.


So it didn’t sound to me as though they were short of a 50+ year old man with a torn rotator cuff injury whose idea of lifting something heavy would be a shopping bag with too many cartons of milk.

So today, yes, we are going on holiday. Hopefully, we are already there; Adelaide. Maybe I should feel guilty, I know I was feeling guilty, but I don’t so much now, thanks to the fantastic effort of everyone in tidying up this mess so fast.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all done by any stretch of the imagination. But the houses that suffered the most have all been washed down, cleaned out, with the rubbish waiting for collection by the council and the Army in their trucks.

Next, I suspect they’ll need to allow those houses a couple of months to dry out before the skilled professionals, carpenters, electricians, plasterers and the like can get in there and make good.

I’ve chipped in my bit so far, and I’ll chip in some more when I get back. There’s still a long way to go. But for me and my family, that long way right now is towards Adelaide.

We’re going on holiday!

But that won’t stop me blogging, I assume they have Internet in Adelaide?

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